• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
France edges closer to huge deal for jet fighters to India

France edges closer to huge deal for jet fighters to India

AFP · 24 Jan 2016, 19:04

Published: 24 Jan 2016 19:04 GMT+01:00

The invitation for Hollande to be chief guest at India's Republic Day military parade on Tuesday had raised expectations the multi-billion dollar agreement for the Rafale jets would finally be sealed.

But after landing in the northern city of Chandigarh, Hollande cooled talk that the contract was on the verge of being signed. He said further discussions were needed on a prior inter-governmental agreement.

"We are going to take another step on the road which we hope will lead us to India's acquisition of the 36 Rafale jets," Hollande told reporters.

"India needs them and France has shown that it has the world's best aircraft.

"The commercial contract can only come after the inter-governmental accord... which will be discussed during my visit."

While Hollande said he was "optimistic" about the inter-governmental accord being agreed on Monday, a senior French official acknowledged negotiations were still snagged on the price.

And in an interview with the Press Trust of India news agency, the French president said that "agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Paris last year that his government had agreed to buy the jets as India looks to modernise its Soviet-era military and keep up with neighbouring Pakistan and China.

The two leaders stepped into the long-delayed deal after tortuous negotiations over a much-larger agreement first signed with France's Dassault Aviation in 2012 broke down.

- Sticking point -

A sticking point has been Delhi's insistence that arms makers invest a percentage of the value of any major deal in India, known as the offset clause.

Hollande began his second official visit to India in Chandigarh, which was designed by French architect Le Corbusier more than 60 years ago.

After Modi greeted Hollande with a hug, the two leaders strolled through Chandigarh's renowned rock garden, with its sculptures made out of rubble from the city's construction, before addressing business leaders.

Modi said he had invited Hollande as a show of solidarity after November's shootings and bombings by Islamists in Paris that killed 130 and evoked memories of the even bloodier 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

"The day Paris was hit by terror, I decided that our Republic Day parade guest must be France as our people are united against the enemies of humanity," Modi said in his speech.

And in a pitch to the assembled CEOs, Modi said India and France were "made for each other".

"France has the resources and capability and we have the need, the market and low-cost manufacturing. That's why India has various opportunities to work with France."

Ministers and executives travelling with Hollande signed a series of accords in Chandigarh with their Indian counterparts on e-commerce, renewable energy and the development of "smart cities", one of Modi's pet projects.

Story continues below…

On Monday the leaders are expected to announce a roadmap for building six French nuclear reactors in the western state of Maharashtra.

They will also lay a foundation stone at the new headquarters of the International Solar Alliance, a 121-nation group launched by Modi at the Paris COP21 conference in November, to expand affordable solar power.

Hollande said he hoped some of the French businesses travelling with him would be at the forefront of the solar energy push.

"We are going to translate our shared commitment to implement what was agreed in Paris into action by launching the solar alliance here," he said.

Hollande and Modi are expected to sit side by side to watch Tuesday's pomp-filled spectacle of military might -- which includes columns of soldiers and Soviet-era tanks -- along Delhi's central Rajpath avenue.

 

Today's headlines
French PM suggests naked breasts represent France
A statue of Marianne at the Place de la Republique in Paris, with her left breast on show. Photo: AFP

Just as the burqini ban furore was dying down French PM Manuel Valls has stirred things up again for suggesting naked breasts were a stronger symbol of the Republic than a Muslim headscarf.

Macron quits government before likely bid for Elysée
President Hollande, left, and Emmanuel Macron. Photo: AFP

France's rebel Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron stepped down on Tuesday as he looks set to concentrate on replacing his boss as president of France.

What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
Competitors in the colourful Marathon du Medoc. Photo: AFP

Summer's not over just yet.

French police officer stabbed by knifeman in Toulouse
Photo: AFP

Attacker, believed to have mental health problems, targeted police officer "because he represented France", unconfirmed reports say.

French parents told to cover naked 18-month old at beach
People enjoying the sun at the Villeneuve-de-la-Raho lake near Perpignan. File photo: AFP

An 18-month-old boy cannot bathe naked, at least according to authorities in southern France.

Every fact you need to know about France's 'départements'
Photo: AFP

So what's the most populated "département" if it's not Paris? Find the answer, as well as every other need to know fact about France's 101 departments.

Brexit: You've got till 2019 Hollande warns UK
Photo: AFP

For the sake of everyone the divorce needs to happen as soon as possible, says Hollande.

UN says French burqini bans 'humiliating and degrading'
Photo: AFP

... and says the ban had fuelled religious intolerance in France.

Opinion - French schools
Ten ways France must fix its 'failing' school system
What must France do to fix its school system? Photo: AFP

Longstanding issues in French school system have not been dealt with, argues journalist and author Peter Gumbel.

Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Emmanuel Macron: The whizzkid who could shake up French politics
Education
French schools to ramp up security with 'mock attacks'
Features
Where to go in France to find the best ice cream
National
Majority in France against burqinis on beaches
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Society
Parisians invited to swim in the Bassin de la Villette
Society
Five tips for surviving an internship in France
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Déja vu? Familiar faces in France's presidential race
National
Meet the man paying off burqini fines in France
National
Eight tips on buying wine in a French supermarket
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Society
Here's how to enjoy Paris (while avoiding the heat)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Ten mistakes to avoid when dating a Frenchman
Society
Twelve 'French' things that aren't actually French at all
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
'World's priciest home' on sale in French Riviera for €1 billion
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
RECIPE: How to make the tastiest ratatouille
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
National
Paris sees Europe's biggest plunge in 'liveability'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Life on the home front in rural France's 'war on terror'
Features
Weird facts you didn't know about the French language
Society
Paris foodie event cancelled over lack of security
How to tackle six of the trickiest French verbs
National
Summer in France - 'the ideal time to find a job'
National
'Burqini bans will only divide France more'
National
French vineyards revive horse-drawn ploughs
2,750
jobs available