Seeking to bolster the Indo-French strategic partnership, French Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed a wide range of issues, including defence and terrorism.
“I spoke about different aspects of our partnership,” Ayrault told reporters here on the sidelines of a function after his meeting with Modi, who was here to attend the 14th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the Centre’s outreach programme for overseas Indians. The French minister, who began his three-day visit to India from here, said: “We spoke about defence because India needs to protect itself. Therefore, defence is an important area. I also shared with him concerns about terrorism and how we are together in fighting it.” Noting that India has various defence needs, for example Rafale fighter aircraft, he said, “It needs subamarines, it needs helicopeters… So we did discuss all of these.”
In September last year, India had inked a Euro 7.87 billion (about Rs 59,000 crore) deal with France for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear weapons and equipped with latest missiles that will give the IAF greater “potency” over arch rival Pakistan.