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India, France exploring possibilities for co-development and co-production of key military platforms

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron at the India-France CEO Forum, in Paris, Friday, July 14, 2023. A PTI Photo

PARIS (PTI): India and France have said they were exploring possibilities for co-development and co-production of key military platforms, including for the benefit of friendly countries, as they unveiled a 25-year roadmap to deepen their strategic partnership.

After wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French Emmanuel Macron, the two sides also came out with 'India-France Indo-Pacific Roadmap' and asserted that they believe in a free, open, inclusive and secure Indo-Pacific region.

Amid increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, the two countries vowed to advance the rule of international law and build a balanced and stable order in the strategic region, with respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Speaking at a joint press event with Macron last Friday, Modi, here on a two-day official visit, said bold and ambitious goals on the anvil as the two countries adopted 'Horizon 2047: 25th Anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership, Towards A Century of India-France Relations' document.

"The talks with my friend, President @EmmanuelMacron were very productive. We reviewed the full range of India-France relations. I am particularly enthusiastic about deepening cooperation in futuristic sectors like green hydrogen, renewable energy, AI, semiconductors and more," Modi tweeted.

The people of India have taken a pledge to make the country a developed nation in the next 25 years, Modi said.

"We see France as a natural partner in this journey," he said.

Modi said that Indian Oil and Total company of France have reached a long-term agreement on the import of LNG. "This will strengthen our goals of transitioning towards clean energy," he said.

The two sides also announced major collaboration in the space sector by stepping up cooperation in space-based maritime awareness and inking the implementing agreement for a joint earth observation satellite Trishna to monitor temperatures on earth and oceans and study climate change.

The two countries also announced plans for joint developments in the field of launchers, while NewSpace India Limited and Arianespace signed a letter of intent to collaborate on commercial launch services.

There was no word on the much-anticipated procurement of 26 naval variants of Rafale fighter jets by India from France.

However, a document listing a 25-year roadmap to further advance the strategic relations mentioned the "timely delivery" of the 36 Rafale jets, which were procured by India from France for the Indian Air Force.

Prime Minister Modi also announced that an agreement has been reached to launch India's Unified Payments Interface in France, the first European country to do so.

Modi spoke about plans by French companies for developing helicopter engines, production of spare parts and setting up of MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facilities in India.

The defence ministry last Thursday approved proposals to purchase 26 Naval variants of Rafale jets from France and procure three French-designed Scorpene class submarines.

"Defence cooperation has been a strong pillar of our close relationship. It is a symbol of deep mutual trust between the two countries. France is an important partner in 'Make in India' and Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative," Modi said.

"Today we will discuss co-development and co-production related to new technologies," he said.

Modi said both sides can produce military platforms for friendly third countries as well.

Asked about the expected deal on 26 Naval variants of Rafale jets from France and procurement of three French-designed Scorpene class submarines, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said, "It is perhaps a natural media interest to focus on one or two items, but from our perspective we look at our defence relationship in a very comprehensive manner."

Kwatra said the 2047 Horizon document has looked at security and sovereignty in a more holistic and comprehensive manner rather than as a set of individual transactions.

"India and France will extend their ground-breaking defence cooperation in advanced aeronautical technologies by supporting the joint development of a combat aircraft engine...They also support industrial cooperation for motorisation of heavy-lift helicopters under the Indian Multi Role Helicopter programme with Safran Helicopter Engine, France," the 2047 roadmap document said.

The document also welcomed the pact between Mazgon Dockyard Ltd and Naval Group for the construction of three additional submarines under the P75 programme.

In his remarks, Modi also said India and France will take forward the relationship in the civil nuclear sector and discuss the possibilities for cooperation in the field of small and advanced modular reactors.

He said India and France have been together in the war against terror.

"We believe strong action needs to be taken to end cross-border terrorism and both nations agree to take further steps in this direction," Modi said.

In the Horizon 2047 document, India and France said they will strengthen cooperation on all aspects in order to stay ahead of the evolving threat of terrorism, including operational cooperation, multilateral action, countering online radicalisation and combating financing of terrorism, particularly through the No Money for Terror (NMFT) initiative and the Christchurch Call to Action to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremism Content Online.

"India and France are deepening their cooperation on internal security and the fight against transnational organised crime, including human trafficking, financial crime and environmental crime," it said.

Prime Minister Modi said that India and France have a special responsibility to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

"As resident powers of the Indo-Pacific, India and France have special responsibility for peace and stability in the region," he said.

Noting that the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have impacted the whole world, Modi said the countries of the Global South have been particularly impacted negatively.

"This is a matter of concern. To find solutions to such problems, it is important for countries to make efforts unitedly. We believe that all disputes can be resolved only through dialogue and diplomacy. India is willing to contribute to lasting peace," the prime minister said.

Modi and Macron also addressed the CEOs Forum where the Prime Minister urged French businessmen.

He also announced that India would open a new Consulate in the port town of Marseilles.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi joined President Macron for the Bastille Day parade as the Guest of Honour with an Indian tri-services marching contingent wowing crowds here during the French National Day celebrations.

Rafale fighter jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) also joined the flypast on the occasion along with French jets.

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Brahmand World Defence Update 2023

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