India, France to hold high-level security talks
NEW DELHI: India and France will hold a high-level security and military dialogue when a high-level French delegation led by Defence Minister Michele Allint Marie will hold deliberations with her Indian counterpart George Fernandes here on Monday (today).
The French team would hold delegation-level talks with Indian officials led by Defence Secretary Subir Dutta and Secretary, Defence Productions, NS Sisodia, which would be followed by one-to-one meetings between Allint Marie and Fernandes, according to official sources here.
The two sides will brief each other on the assessment of the international scenario after the coalition forces captured Iraq. The French Defence Minister is also likely to meet External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and may also call on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Besides the international security scenario, situation in the Indian subcontinent and developments in Afghanistan, the two sides are expected to focus on expanding military level cooperation between the two countries.
The French are likely to make a pitch for 140 advanced Mirage 2000-V5 to India with New Delhi on the verge of finalising a technology transfer deal for acquisition and manufacture of advanced fighters to fill the breach between phasing of ageing MiG series and delay in induction of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft.
Alongwith French Dassault, the other competitors are US’ Lockheed Martin with their offer of F-16 fighting falcons and the Russians with their upgraded MiG 29 and Su-30mki.
The French Minister is also likely to press for clearance of the multi-billion dollar sale and technology transfer of Scorpene submarines to India. The deal has been cleared by the defence ministry and is pending the final nod from Cabinet Committee on Security.
The deal has evoked some flak, with some opposition parties alleging that the government was defying all norms by going for single vendor purchases.
Under the deal, India proposed to manufacture at the first instance six of these Scorpene class sub-marines while retaining the option of building further six.
The Scorpene submarines are far superior and advanced than the French supplied Agosta class submarines to Pakistan. —PTI