Deepen Cooperation


In a major expansion of strategic ties, India and France inked 14 pacts in key areas of defence, security, nuclear energy and protection of classified information besides resolving to deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and step up joint efforts to contain terrorism. The agreements were signed after extensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron, including on the changing security dynamics in the Indian Ocean and Pacific. The visiting leader asserted that the sea lanes cannot be places for hegemonic power play, in a clear reference to China. The pacts included reciprocal logistic support between the armed forces of the two countries and another on protection of classified or protected information, an agreement that comes in the backdrop of the Indian Government refusing to divulge details of the multi-billion dollar Indo-French Rafale fighter jet deal. Noting that defence cooperation between the two countries now has a "new significance", Macron talked about the Scorpene submarine project for the Indian Navy and the fighter jet deal for the Air Force. India had made a sovereign decision in this respect (Rafale fighter jet) and we are monitoring the progress in the field. We very much want to continue the programme. It is a long-term contract which is mutually beneficial.
India had signed a Government-to-government deal with France in 2016 to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of about the Rs 58,000-crore. The Congress has been demanding details of the deal, alleging that the deal negotiated under its rule was much cheaper then the contract signed by the Modi government. On maritime security, the French President said both the countries will have "unprecedented" level of cooperation to ensure peace and stability in the Indian Ocean and Pacific. The agreement on protection of classified information defines the common security regulations applicable to any exchange of classified and protected information. Another pact provides for a way forward for the implementation of the Jaitapur nuclear power project. The two countries also inked pacts for cooperation in other areas, including railways, environment, solar energy, maritime awareness and checking trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

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