India, France see a stepping stone to Rafale deal; grip on terrorism to be strengthened

| Monday, January 25, 2016 - 22:45
First Published |
India-France talk about Rafale and terrorism
New Delhi:  India and France on Monday signed 14 pacts to bolster ties and concluded an inter-government agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft by New Delhi but with financial issues yet to be resolved.
The two countries also decided to bolster cooperation against terrorism, and told Pakistan to bring to justice those responsible for terror strikes in Gurdaspur and Pathankot and the November 2008 terror attack in Mumbai and ensure that such attacks do not recur.
French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also agreed to collaborate to construct six nuclear power reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra instead of two decided earlier.
The two sides had "a very productive discussion" during the delegation level talks at Hyderabad House here which lasted 90 minutes, beyond the expected duration. Earlier Modi and Hollande had "restricted talks" for about an hour.
Hollande and Modi later took a Delhi Metro train to attend a function in Gurgaon in Haryana to lay the foundation stone of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) headquarters and inaugurate its Interim Secretariat. The two leaders jointly launched the ISA at the Paris Climate Change summit.
India and France came out with a joint statement which talked about the need for "all countries to effectively deal with terrorism emanating from their territory or territories under their control".
They agreed to intensify cooperation in homeland security, cyber security, special forces and intelligence sharing. Terrorism, they said, cannot be justified under any circumstance, regardless of its motivation.
Both leaders called for decisive action against the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Haqqani Network as well as groups such as Al Qaeda.
Modi and Hollande praised each other after the signing of 14 agreements.
The French president will be the chief guest at the 67th Republic Day function here on Tuesday -- the fifth time a French leader has been given the honour. 
A French Army contingent will take part in the parade on Tuesday, making France the first country to take part in the annual military show.
Earlier on Monday, Hollande, who flew into Chandigarh on Sunday, was given a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on the second day of his three-day visit to India.
After the bilateral talks, Modi said financial details need to be worked out in finalising the much-awaited purchase of Rafale jets from France, adding this would be concluded soon.
Modi had, during his visit to Paris last year, announced India's intention to buy 36 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft built by Dassault. The deal is valued at around Rs.60,000 crore (almost $9 billion).
"Only financial aspects of the Rafale deal is left. The inter-governmental agreement has been finalised. It will be done soon," Modi said. 
Hollande said: "It is a decisive step for India to purchase the fighter jets and also for France to make them available to a great country like India."
On the financial aspects, he said: "It will be sorted out in a couple of days." 
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, who briefed the media after the bilateral talks, said 30 agreements were signed between the two sides since Sunday. 
Referring to the civil nuclear cooperation, he said: "At Jaitapur, we will collaborate to construct six nuclear power reactors."
The joint statement said Modi and Hollande encouraged their industrial companies to conclude techno-commercial negotiations by the end of 2016 to build six nuclear power reactor units at Jaitapur, with due consideration to "localisation of manufacturing in India".
France reaffirmed its support for India's candidature for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. 
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