September 1, 2015

Defence ministers of Australia, France to visit India

Defence ministers of Australia and France are set to visit India this week to advance bilateral naval collaborations and accelerate realisation of the long-awaited agreement on the purchase of Rafale fighter jets respectively.

Defence Ministry officials have confirmed the visit of Australian defence minister Kevin Andrews, but is tight-lipped on the visit of his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is likely to be in Delhi in later half of the week to finalise an inter-governmental agreement on the purchase of 36 Rafale jets.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s meeting with Le Drian could happen towards the weekend as France reportedly agreed to the conditions that India put forward before going ahead with the Rafale deal. One of the sticking points was understood to be 50 per cent offset, which France appeared to have agreed to, though there is no official confirmation as yet.If the 50 per cent offset clause is accepted by both parties, then France would have to invest half of the total deal amount in Indian military industries for downstream production. Andrews, on the other hand, would focus more on expanding the strategic cooperation with a focus on the naval cooperation.


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