Ahead of inducting Rafale jets to Indian Air Force, France describes India as strategic partner
New Delhi, Sep 09: France has described India as its "foremost" Asian strategic partner and said the upcoming visit of its Defence Minister Florence Parly to the country is aimed at further strengthening the "forward-looking" defence cooperation with New Delhi.
According to reports, Parly is all set to visit India on Thursday to attend a ceremony in Ambala to induct the first batch of five Rafale jets into the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The French Defence Minister will hold talks with her Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
On July 29, the first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 of the aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.
The French embassy, in a statement, said the focus of the talks will be on maritime security ties in the Indo-Pacific, counter-terror cooperation and strengthening overall bilateral defence partnership.
"Their broad-ranging talks will cover, among others, industrial and technological partnership in line with the Make in India programme, operational defence cooperation, particularly maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, modalities of continuing the armed forces' joint exercises in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, counter-terrorism cooperation as well as major regional and international strategic issues," the embassy said.
The French defence minister will be accompanied by top executives from Dassault Aviation, Thales Group, Safran, and MBDA, representing the French defence majors that have been partnering with many Indian companies as part of the Rafale deal.
During her visit to the national capital, Parly will also pay floral tributes to India's valiant soldiers at the National War Memorial.
The ties between India and France are on an upswing in the last few years with cooperation witnessing a major expansion in key areas.
The areas of defence and security, civil nuclear cooperation and trade and investment constitute the principal pillars of the Indo-French strategic partnership.
In addition, India and France are increasingly engaged in new areas of cooperation such as in the Indian Ocean region, climate change and sustainable growth and development.