French prez Hollande arrives in India, meets PM Modi in Chandigarh

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jan 24, 2016 17:06 IST
French President Francois Hollande with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rock Garden in Chandigarh. Hollande is in India on a three-day visit. (Sanjeev Sharma/HT Photo)

French President Francois Hollande arrived in Chandigarh on Sunday afternoon at the start of his three-day visit to India.

He was joined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chandigarh later in the afternoon at the Rock Garden, a famous landmark of the city. The two will attend a CEO’s Forum and the India-France business summit.

Hollande is the chief guest at the Republic Day parade this year.

Earlier, Hollande was welcomed by the governor of Punjab and Haryana Kaptan Singh Solanki and Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar upon his arrival in Chandigarh.

Shortly before the arrival of the French leader, Modi tweeted, “A warm welcome to French President @fhollande. We are honoured & delighted to have him as the Chief Guest for Republic Day celebrations.”

The Prime Minister in a second tweet said, “President @fhollande & I will meet in Chandigarh & Delhi. We will build on the ground covered during our previous interactions.”

Before his arrival, Hollande had said that the Rafale jets deal with India is on the “right track” but technicalities will take time.

“The Rafale is a major project for India and France. It will pave the way for an unprecedented industrial and technological cooperation, including ‘Make in India’, for the next 40 years.

“Agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time, but we are on the right track”, Hollande told PTI in an interview ahead of his visit beginning on Sunday.

Read | Rafale jet deal with India on right track: French President Hollande

He also noted that Indo-French cooperation in defence” is part of our strategic partnership. It is based on trust, a very strong trust between both our countries.”

India and France are in negotiations for 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly away conditions since the announcement for the deal was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April during his visit to France.

However, the deal is yet to be sealed as both sides are still negotiating the price which is estimated to be about Rs 60,000 crore.

HT had reported last week that negotiations between India and France on closing the deal for 36 Rafale multi-role fighters have entered their last, hectic phase. Both the countries are seeking simultaneous inking of the Inter-Government Agreement (IGA) and Commercial Contract during President Hollande’s visit.

But going by Hollande’s interview to PTI, it will have to be seen whether the deal will be signed during Hollande’s visit.

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