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NEW DELHI : New Delhi: French defence minister Florence Parly is to visit India on Friday to discuss issues ranging from maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, to industrial and technological partnership in line with the “Make in India" programme, and cooperation on counter terrorism.

During her day-long visit, Parly, officially called the Minister for the Armed Forces of France, will hold the Annual Defence Dialogue with her counterpart, Rajnath Singh, and call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a statement from the French embassy said.

This will be Parly’s first visit to a key buyer of French armaments.

Multiple media reports said earlier this week that Parly could offer nuclear-powered attack submarine technology to India during her talks with Singh to further boost defence ties with New Delhi. This could not be immediately verified.

India is building six Scorpene submarines under technology transfer from the Naval Group of France. Four have been inducted so far.

In July, India’s defence ministry invited request for proposal (RFP) for the manufacture of six air-independent propulsion (AIP) fitted submarines. The RFP was issued to Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd and Larsen and Toubro Ltd. This is the first project under the strategic partnership model and aims to have local companies deliver high-end military platforms in partnership with foreign equipment manufacturers. France’s Naval Group is one of the contenders for the partnership along with TKMS-Germany, JSC ROE-Russia, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, and Navantia-Spain.

In recent years, India has also bought 36 French-built Rafale aircraft to strengthen its ageing fighter aircraft fleet.

According to the French embassy statement, Parly will hold “in depth" talks with Singh that will “cover all aspects of Indo-French defence cooperation".

She will also meet Ajit Doval, national security adviser, in particular for discussions on regional security issues, the statement said.

“This visit highlights Fra-nce’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific and the centrality of India in the French strategy. It comes in the wake of major bilateral air, naval, and army exercises this year: Desert Knight 21 in January, Varuna in April, Shakti in November," the statement said.

“Minister Parly will stress France and India’s joint commitment to answering the challenges of the Indo-Pacific by bringing together friendly powers to defend the rule of law, offering a positive agenda to the countries of the region, and rejecting all forms of hegemony," it said.

“In this respect, the Minister will detail the recently unveiled EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific that brings a multiplier effect to this comprehensive approach for the region. Upon taking the presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1st January 2022, France will make the Indo-Pacific and India a key priority," it said.

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