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France Is Ready To Provide More Rafale Aircraft To India: French Defence Minister

Visiting French Defence Minister Florence Parly on Friday (December 17) said that her country is willing to provide more Rafale fighter aircraft to India.

In response to a question, Parly said, “France is ready to answer any additional needs or request that can be made by India….we are open and ready to provide any other Rafale if this is India’s decision.”

The Inter-governmental agreement for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft by India in flyaway condition was signed in New Delhi on 23 September 2016. Out of 36, 33 have been delivered and three will be delivered by April of 2022. This is the 2nd visit of the French Minister to India in two years. She had visited India in September 2020 when she participated in the formal induction ceremony of five Rafale aircraft at the Ambala airbase.

The French minister said, “Very happy that Indian Air force is satisfied with its Rafale and we are very proud that despite COVID-19 the 36 aircraft will be delivered on time, according to the contract. It’s a real achievement and I was lucky enough to attend the ceremony in September last, induction of the first aircraft with the Indian Air Force. It will be a real asset for our bilateral cooperation, using the same aircraft is real asset and strength. I am sure that there is room for new developments. “

Today is the main day of engagement of the minister’s visit. She will hold talks with Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh as part of the annual defence dialogue. The two countries have a ministerial-level Defense dialogue, which has been held annually since 2018.

Asked about Aukus Pact between Australia, UK and US under which Canberra gets nuclear submarines and the French engagement in Indo- Pacific, she said, “The geography will not change. France is an Indo-Pacific country…We want to develop very close multilateral relations…India is at the center of this strategy. We had developed very good relations with Australia, then Australia made its decision. Won’t comment on that. It is very disappointing for us, but will continue to be a major partner for all countries who want to develop the same strategy for the region.”

France has been miffed with the Aukus development and Australia cancelling Attack-class submarine deal with the country as a fallout of it. Since then, India, France and Australia trilateral has also lost momentum.

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