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French defence minister to visit India
April 24, 2003 00:26 IST
French Defence Minister Michele Allint Marie will lead a military and armament industry delegation on a three-day visit to India from Saturday to pitch for the sale of advanced Mirage-2000 jets.
Marie will hold talks with her Indian counterpart George Fernandes and meet the three service chiefs -- Admiral Madhvendera Singh, Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy and General N C Vij.
The visit is significant because India is on the verge of finalising a deal for the acquisition and manufacture of jets to fill the breach between phasing of the MiG series and delay in the induction of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft.
The Indian Air Force proposes to purchase 140 to 150 fighters from the French Dassault. Other competitors are the US Lockheed Martin with their offer of the F-16 fighting falcons and the Russians with their upgraded MiG 29 and Sukhoi-30 MKI.
Marie is also likely to press for the clearance of a multi-billion dollar sale and technology transfer of Scorpene submarines to India.
The defence ministry has cleared the deal and only the Cabinet Committee on Security needs to give a final nod.
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