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Why India's ties with the US worries France
September 01, 2006 18:52 IST
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, heading a high-level delegation, will visit France and Germany for a week from Sunday to discuss and review bilateral defence ties.
The visit to Paris comes against the backdrop of anxiety in French armament industry -- India's third largest weapons supplier -- over the future of strategic tie-ups.
Mukherjee will hold wide-ranging talks with his French counterpart Michele Alliot-Marie and also have an interactive roundtable with the chief executives of the French Defence related industries including the European consortium EADS, Thales and Aviation giant Dassault.
India and France have a robust tie-up in the field of supply and production of defence-related equipment and the two countries have set-up a high level high committee to oversee hi-tech weapons technology transfer and strategic ties.
France, which did not impose sanctions against India post-Pokhran nuclear tests, is wary of India's growing tie-up with the US fearing it might affect the supply of its military equipment to India.
During his stay in Paris, Mukherjee will be visiting the Centre for Planning and Operations Management and the French armed forces command of air defence and air operations at Taverny.
The Centre deals with international operations of the French armed forces and execution at joint staff level and the inclusion of CIDS Chief Gen Lidder in the Indian delegation is significant as New Delhi is in the process of moving towards the formation of a chief of defence staff.
India has requested the French for a detailed briefing on the management of its international peacekeeping operations particularly in Lebanon and Afghanistan, defence sources said.
Paris-based CPCO deals with acquisition by the French forces and New Delhi had made a special request to get to know about the French weapons acquisition system.
Ahead of the visit, Chief of Air Staff S P Tyagi made a special presentation for the defence minister and his entourage.
The presentation assumes significance as IAF is about to float international tenders for acquiring 126 Multi-Role Combat Aircraft and the French company Dassault is one of the major contenders with its Rafale fighters.
Mukherjee will also visit Neuve Chapelle to pay homage at the Indian soldiers memorial. The memorial was built in honour of the Indian army soldiers who fought in France and Belgium during the first and Second world wars.
The defence minister's visit to Germany is also very significant as New Delhi and Berlin are to sign their first-ever joint defence cooperation agreement to widen bilateral defence ties.
The conclusion of the agreement to provide for German technology transfer and holding of joint naval exercises and more interaction between the armed forces would be the highlight of the visit commencing September 5.
In Berlin, Mukherjee would hold talks with German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung and Minister for Technology and Economics Michael Gloss. He will also address the captains of the German defence industries.
Mukherjee will also pay homage at the Zehrensdorf Indian cemetery where lies graves of 206 Indian soldiers who died as prisoners during the First World War.