"Limitless" and "partner" were the chosen words of French President Nicholas Sarkozy on Monday to reflect the furthering of India-France strategic relationship in its 12th year.
Sarkozy made a vigorous reiteration of support for India’s bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, prodded Pakistan to act on terrorism determinedly and prosecute the 26/11 plotters, and spoke of having “same reading on Afghanistan” with India.
"President Sarkozy’s visit has provided further impetus to our partnership and reconfirmed its strategic nature”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.
Terming India as a "partner", as the French nuclear major Areva is scouting for partnership, once the commercial deal comes through for the European pressurised reactors, for which a framework agreement was signed on Monday, the deal could be worth over $9 billion (R40,590 crore).
"In the nuclear area, our cooperation is limitless,” the French president said.
Singh deeply appreciated “France’s willingness to supply us advanced defence technologies in a way that contributes to the modernisation of our own defence industry.”
Though no formal announcement was made, sourced said a clutch of defence deals are in the final stages. These include upgrading Mirage fighter jets, equip them with missiles, a deal that could be worth 700 million euros, developing a surface to air missiles and French aerospace major Safran jointly developing a fighter aircraft. Sarkozy also hoped that India would buy the Rafael fighter jet produced by Dassault Aviation.
"The two countries welcomed efforts and future prospects for joint programmes in defence industry, which would include joint research and development and transfer of technology and as a first step, they “expect to launch soon the Short Range Surface to Air Missile and Kaveri (aircraft engine) programmes”, the joint statement said.
Urging Pakistan to fight against terrorism, Sarkozy said “Our cooperation on counter-terrorism is without limits.” Manmohan Singh thanked Sarkozy for being a “consistent advocate” for India getting a permanent seat in the UNSC.
He said India as a permanent member of the UNSC was “not just an important matter for India but for the equilibrium of the world.” Sarkozy wanted joint proposal with India for G-20. The French president is the chair of UNSC.