Paris, April 11: In a major fillip for India-France ties, India said on Friday that it will buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition as both sides also pushed for early conclusion of techno-commercial talks on the Jaitapur nuclear power plant and inked 17 agreements as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with French President Francois Hollande here.
The Rafale deal was the biggest takeaway in the talks between Modi and Hollande. India had shortlisted Rafale, made by Dassault Aviation, in a $20-billion deal for purchase of 126 fighter jets for the MMRCA project in 2012. However, the final deal has not been inked.
Hollande said their ties in civil nuclear energy, sustainable energy and defence and the desire to acquire 36 Rafale jets show the partnership has moved to new stage of cooperation,
Hollande also voiced indignation at the release on bail of 26/11 mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.
"We want to express indignation at the terrorist's release", which he said was not good for stability or for development and peace.
The issue of Lakhvi's release also featured in talks between Modi and senior politicians in France at the National Assembly.
The French delegation at the National Assembly raised the issue twice.
"Twice the French delegation raised the issue of the unfortunate release of Lakhvi in Pakistan and said it was not good news either for India or the world," Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson India's external affairs ministry, said.
Modi said several cities, including Paris and Mumbai, have faced terror attacks and India and France understand each other's pain.
He said terrorism was spreading and taking new forms.
"It is responsibility of every country to cooperate fully. It should not give them (terrorists) sanctuary and give them punishment at the earliest," Modi said.
Modi's remarks came on a day 26/11 principal accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi was released from jail in Pakistan.
Modi said that both countries have completed 50 years in space cooperation and added that "I am glad we have released a joint postal stamp today".
Modi and Hollande agreed upon severe punishment of terrorists.
"President Hollande has extended full cooperation in our 'Make In India' campaign in the defence sector, which is not just a program but an ambition," he said in Hindi.
Hollande also voiced support to India for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
Both sides also urged for early conclusion of techno-commercial discussions on the proposal for construction of six 1650 Mwe nuclear power plants at Jaitapur, with due consideration to project viability and in the framework of an ambitious partnership for large and critical components, the joint statement said.
The two also urged their atomic energy establishments to lay an ambitious foundation for the future of India-France civil nuclear cooperation, including a wide range of subjects, including in the area of civil nuclear liability.
Modi also went on a boat ride on the Seine river with Hollande and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius after conclusion of their talks.
Both sides 17 agreements, including in the field of civil nuclear energy, railways and space, and three Letters of Intent.
The joint statement said that India and France reaffirmed their commitment to their deep strategic partnership and deepened bilateral ties.
It said France and India shared common concerns and objectives in the field of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
"In a further effort to strengthen global non-proliferation and export control regimes, France and India committed to continuing to work jointly towards India's accession to the multilateral export control regimes, namely, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement," the statement said.
On the pressing global challenge of climate change, Prime Minister Modi extended his full support to France for a successful outcome of CoP 21 to UNFCCC to be held in Paris later this year.
"The leaders expressed confidence that the Paris Conference would finalise an historic agreement for the post-2020 period."
The Modi government's initiative to create smart cities in India also came up for discussion.
Earlier, Modi was accorded a ceremonial welcome in the morning, after which he attended two back-to-back meetings with CEOS where Make in India was the focus.
He also visited the Unesco headquarters in Paris where he spoke of the Indian government's commitment to ensure that every citizen, faith, culture and creed has an equal place in society.