India and France today concluded negotiations on the Short Range Surface to Air Missile nearly worth of $6 billion during the talks between French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also said talks on $10 billion deal for Rafale fighter aircraft are “progressing well”.
After a comprehensive talk, the leaders said views were exchanged on a number of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest including defence ties, civil nuclear cooperation, counter-terrorism and situation in Mali.
Observing that India is Hollande’s first Asian destination for a bilateral trip, Singh said this demonstrates the importance of this relationship between the two countries.
“President Hollande and I exchanged views on a number of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest. We reviewed progress on the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project and reiterated our commitment to its early implementation as soon as the commercial and technical negotiations, which have made good progress, are completed,” Singh said at a joint press event after the talks.
Expressing satisfaction with the progress in defence cooperation, Singh said, “Discussions on the MMRCA contract are progressing well. We have also concluded negotiations on the Short Range Surface to Air Missile, which, once approved by the Government, will be co-developed and co-produced in India,” while noting that the defence ties were poised to reach a qualitatively new level.
The Rs 30,000 crore worth of SR-SAM project is a co-development joint venture between India and France and would be developed by MBDA of France and DRDO from the Indian side. The surface to air missile defence system would be deployed by the IAF and the Navy.
Hollande was also accompanied by a large contingent of French business leaders, including Dassault chief executive Eric Trappier, whose company is hoping to seal the deal to sell 126 Rafale warplanes to India in the world’s biggest defence contract currently under negotiation.
On his part, Hollande said he has come to take the Indo-French strategic partnership to “yet another level” while noting that the defence cooperation reflects India’s trust for French technology and France’s trust for use of technology by India. “India is a country of peace”, the French President added.
The two sides also inked four pacts, including one in the field of railways.