Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande will hold talks in Delhi today. It seems unlikely that the 60,000 crore Rafale jet deal will be sealed, but the two leaders are expected to send out a strong message on terror. The French President is the chief guest for the Republic Day celebration on Tuesday.
Here are the latest developments:
President Hollande has indicated that the Rafale jet deal could take more time. Talks are “progressing”, he told reporters on landing in Chandigarh yesterday. “Here we will be crossing another step and which will go, we hope, towards India’s acquisition of 36 Rafale jets. The commercial contract can only come after the inter-governmental accord, which will be discussed during my visit,” he said.
- PM Modi had announced in Paris last year that India would buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in flyaway condition for the Indian Air Force.
- Indian and French negotiators on Friday debated the price of the combat planes that are key to India’s plans to modernize its military and keep up with neighbours Pakistan and China.
- Ahead of his visit, President Hollande had told the Press Trust of India: “Agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time, but we are on the right track.”
- The two leaders are also expected to discuss deals on more nuclear reactors, smart cities, space cooperation, business and energy.
- On Sunday, President Hollande and PM Modi met at Chandigarh’s Rock Gardenmade out of rubble from the city’s construction.
- President Hollande and PM Modi are expected to sit side by side to watch Tuesday’s Republic Day parade. French soldiers will march down Rajpath along with Indian troops, a first for any foreign army.
- Police and security agencies across India are on high alert with experts assessing a “very real” ISIS threat. Earlier this month, a letter warning against President Hollande’s visit was received by the French consulate in Bengaluru.
- At an India France business summit yesterday, the French president said: “My visit has two main objectives: consolidate our strategic partnership, in particular for our security, with more cooperation and implement decisions taken during PM Modi’s visit in France during COP21.”
- PM Modi urged French CEOs to invest in India, stating: “Retrospective taxation is a thing of past. We will ensure that this chapter is never opened again in India.”