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Business News/ News / India, France to strengthen defence ties

India, France to strengthen defence ties

New Delhi, Paris finalize defence industrial roadmap, space and students visa agreements during Macron’s visit

New Delhi, Jan 26 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra addresses a special press briefing on the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, at Sushma Swaraj Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI Photo/Jitender Gupta) (Jitender Gupta)Premium
New Delhi, Jan 26 (ANI): Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra addresses a special press briefing on the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron, at Sushma Swaraj Bhawan in New Delhi on Friday. (ANI Photo/Jitender Gupta) (Jitender Gupta)

India and France finalized their defence industrial roadmap and a slew of other strategically important agreements on Friday during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to New Delhi.

The new roadmap is expected to help the Indian and French defence sectors to partner in projects requiring joint designing and production, said foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra at a press conference here. The focus will be on air, space, maritime, land warfare, robotics and artificial intelligence technology, among other areas. New Delhi and Paris had agreed to pursue the roadmap during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France in July 2023.

Two sides also agreed on a letter of intent to boost defence space cooperation. The goal, Kwatra said, is to enhance space situational awareness, preventing collisions in space and other activities like earth monitoring and remote sensing. New Space India Ltd (NSIL) also signed an MoU with France’s Arianespace on satellite launch capabilities.

Kwatra also announced that Tata and Airbus are set to establish a final assembly line (FAL) to make H125 helicopters in India. The two firms also hope to export the helicopter to neighbouring countries. Airbus stated that the move was a push forward the “Make in India" campaign.

However, the visit did not see a major announcement on the purchase of Rafale marine aircraft or Scorpene submarines from India. “The visits are not focused on individual transactions," Kwatra said in response to queries on the status of the deals.

Modi and Macron held talks in Jaipur on bilateral ties and other regional and global issues. The ongoing Red Sea crisis and the Ukraine war also featured in the discussions.  

“With regards to developments in the Red Sea, the potential disruptions and the actual things happening in the maritime domain there which are causing disruption to commercial shipping, is a matter of serious concern and both leaders focused on it," Kwatra said.

He also confirmed that an agreement was reached on mobility for young professionals and stated that a five-year Schengen visa provision for Indian students completing their Masters in France will be activated.

New Delhi and Paris also discussed the controversy surrounding French journalist Vanessa Dougnac. According to numerous reports, Dougnac was asked by the Indian government to explain why her OCI card should not be withdrawn after allegations of “malicious" reporting. Kwatra explained that the matter had been discussed by the two sides but also stated that the case concerns whether Dougnac was complying with the appropriate rules and regulations.

External affairs minister S. Jaishankar also met with his counterpart, Stephane Sejourne, during the visit. Macron was accompanied by a 40-member delegation. On Friday, he attended India’s 75th Republic Day parade as the chief guest. Macron is the fifth French leader to receive this honour and the fourth consecutive French President to be the chief guest at the celebrations. This was also Macron’s third visit to India, after his previous visits in 2018 and 2023.

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Published: 26 Jan 2024, 07:38 PM IST
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