Rafale deal may get push during Modi visit: India’s ex-envoy

India and France forged strategic partnership in 1998, which has steadily expanded to include a host of new areas. Defence cooperation forms the bedrock of this vital relationship. In this interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org), Mr Rakesh Sood, India’s former ambassador to France, speaks about the prospects of the mammoth Rafale deal, possibilities of bilateral cooperation in the crucial Indian Ocean region and how the burgeoning strategic ties are complemented by cultural bonding.
(Excerpts from the interview)
Q) France is betting big on the Rafale deal. Do you see a closure of this deal in the near future do you think that the Modi-Hollande meeting will give the political push for the closure of the deal?
A) I am quite sure the prime minister’s meeting in Paris with the French president will give the push. These negotiations have been going on for sometime; understandably these are some complex negotiations and we are also moving into new areas on life cycle costing and so on, which are a new experience for us. And there can’t be a bigger political push than a summit-level meeting between the prime minister and the president.

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India & France: Spring Time, New Horizons

It’s spring time in Paris, and there is a new spring, bounce and vitality in India-France relations. Paris in April looks like the heaven on earth, and is the first stop in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden trip to Europe and the continent’s powerful economy. France is India’s key strategic partner in the European continent, and the strategic partnership the two countries forged in 1998 have steadily scaled new frontiers.

When Prime Minister Modi sits down for talks with the French president in Paris April 10, there will be a lot on the table besides delicious gourmet food for which the French are famous. The menu will be appetising and varied – trade and investment, nuclear energy, science and technology, defence deals and space will vie for the leaders’ mind space as they map out an ambitious agenda to upscale India-France relations across the spectrum.

Economic relations are on an upward trajectory, with bilateral trade exceeding $7 billion. French companies are betting on India’s growth prospects, and plan to put in more money into Asia’s third largest economy and one of the world’s fastest growing companies. French investments in India have already exceeded around $10 billion. And more than 700 French companies are doing thriving business in India, creating jobs and setting new benchmarks in innovation.

Paris in April looks a perfect place and time to flower new dreams for this crucial strategic partnership, and map out fresh avenues for the evolving and dynamic India-France relations.

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