Nirmala Sitharaman leaves for France on 3-day visit

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman left for France Wednesday evening on a three-day visit which comes amid a large controversy over the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from French aerospace firm Dassault Aviation beneath a Rs 58,000 crore deal. Officials sources stated Sitharaman will maintain wide-ranging talks together with her French counterpart Florence Parly on methods to deepen strategic cooperation between the 2 international locations and the 2 sides will even deliberate on main regional and international problems with mutual pursuits.

They stated Sitharaman will even take inventory of progress within the provide of the Rafale jets by Dassault to the Indian Air Force. There was indication that she could even visit the power the place the jets are being manufactured.

Sitharaman’s visit comes practically three weeks after former French President Francois Hollande was quoted by French publication ‘Mediapart’ as saying that Indian authorities proposed the title of Reliance to companion with Dassault Aviation for the Rafale deal.

The feedback by Hollande, who was French president when the Rafale deal was finalised, triggered an enormous political row.

The authorities has vehemently rejected the allegations and asserted that it didn’t have any function within the number of Reliance Defence.

In their talks, Sitharaman and Parly are anticipated to deliberate on joint manufacturing of navy platforms and weapons by the 2 international locations.

Earlier this 12 months, France was pitching for beginning negotiations for procurement of one other batch of 36 Rafale jets by India. However, New Delhi was not eager on pursuing it.

In April, the Indian Air Force began the method to accumulate a fleet of 114 fighter jets and Dassault Aviation has emerged as one of many key contenders for the contract.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had introduced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after talks with the then French President Francois Hollande on April 10, 2015 in Paris. The remaining deal was sealed on September 23, 2016.

The Congress has been alleging huge irregularities within the deal, saying the federal government was procuring every plane at a value of over Rs 1,670 crore as towards Rs 526 crore finalised by the UPA authorities when it was negotiating the deal.

The Congress has additionally been focusing on the federal government over number of Reliance Defence as an offset companion for Dassault.

Sources stated Sitharaman will talk about with Parly methods to broaden Indo-French maritime safety cooperation within the Indo-Pacific area.

French President Emmanuel Macron had visited India in March throughout which the 2 international locations determined to broaden strategic ties and deepen counter-terror cooperation.

The two sides additionally inked a strategic pact offering for the usage of one another’s navy services together with opening naval bases to warships.

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