Friday, 27 May 2011

Indians Arm Twisting The French

India has told France to stop supplying weapons and equipment to Pakistan in the name of fighting terrorism. The issue arose during talks between French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet and Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony during Longuet's visit here May 27.

Longuet confirmed India's expressions of concern about supplying weapons, telling reporters, " India's concern about weapon sales by France to Pakistan was raised."

France cannot afford to ignore New Delhi's concerns at a time when the French Rafale is competing in India's $10 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program, which is in the final stages of evaluation, said Mahindra Singh, a retired Indian Army major general and independent defense analyst here.

Longuet also told reporters that India and France would hold land-based joint exercises in the future.

Longuet made a pitch for the Rafale during his talks with Antony, an Indian Defence Ministry source said.

In an expected swipe at the Eurofighter consortium, the French Defence Minister said, "We are one country, and we have enjoyed a relationship since 1953. Dealing with one country you know well, I imagine, is better than dealing with four countries. It is just simpler."

Also, "There will be no restrictions on the use of our equipment. That is an assurance." He provided no further details on the Rafale offer.

On the IAF Mirage-2000 upgrade, Longuet said, "We are in the final stages of the upgrade agreement. It is up to the Indian political establishment to take a decision. We are confident that it will happen soon."

Another topic that was discussed was joint development on an air defense system under the proposed Maitri project. However, no details are known on its progress.

The French also offered to sell India a variety of missiles, including beyond-visual-range missiles, said a diplomat of the French Embassy in New Delhi.

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