India, France seal key pacts in defence, UPI | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India, France seal key pacts in defence, UPI

By, New Delhi
Jul 15, 2023 12:47 AM IST

Both countries also agreed to work on establishing a partnership to build low and medium power modular nuclear reactors and adopted a new Indo-Pacific Roadmap.

India and France on Friday announced a raft of agreements to deepen defence cooperation, including pacts for three submarines for the Indian Navy and the development of jet and helicopter engines, and unveiled plans to roll out the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) system in Europe from September.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being conferred with the ‘Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour’ by French President Emmanuel Macron at Elysee Palace in Paris. (PIB)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi being conferred with the ‘Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour’ by French President Emmanuel Macron at Elysee Palace in Paris. (PIB)

Also read: France confers Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour on PM Modi

Both countries also agreed to work on establishing a partnership to build low and medium power modular nuclear reactors and adopted a new Indo-Pacific Roadmap to work together to secure their economic and security interests and advance the rule of international law. The developments came following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Defence cooperation is a key pillar in India-France relations and the two sides should work on the co-production of military platforms to meet not only their own needs but those of friendly third countries, Modi said at a joint media interaction with Macron ahead of their official talks.

Security cooperation, ranging from co-development of defence hardware to space-based maritime domain awareness and joint steps to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, formed a crucial part of Modi’s remarks. He also outlined several steps aimed at taking bilateral relations to the next stage, including a roadmap for the next 25 years of the strategic partnership.

Following the success of the Scorpene submarine construction programme or P75, state-run Mazagon Dockyard Ltd and France’s Naval Group signed a MoU for the construction of three additional Scorpene submarines.

After the delivery of 36 Rafale combat jets to India, the two sides will extend their cooperation in advanced aeronautical technologies by supporting the joint development of a combat aircraft engine, according to a joint document titled “Horizon 2047”. A roadmap for this project will be prepared between France’s Safran and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) by the end of the year.

The two sides will support industrial cooperation for developing an engine for India’s multi-role helicopter programme with France’s Safran. A shareholders’ agreement between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Safran Helicopter Engine was concluded for the engine development.

Another contract was concluded between Safran Helicopter Engine and HAL for transfer of technology for forging and castings for the Shakti engine. Yet another MoU between Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd and France’s Naval Group will focus on collaboration on a surface ship that meets the requirement of India and international naval forces.

Both countries are also working on adopting a Roadmap on Defence Industrial Cooperation. India will also set up a technical office of the DRDO at its embassy in Paris.

Last week, India’s NPCI International Payments Limited (NIPL) and France’s Lyra Collect signed an agreement to roll out UPI in France and Europe. The payment mechanism is in its last phase of production and will go live by September, with the Eiffel Tower in Paris as the first merchant in France to accept UPI, the document said.

“Defence cooperation is a key pillar in our ties that reflects the two countries’ deep trust in each other. France is an important partner in the Make in India and Atmanirbhar Bharat initiatives,” Modi said, speaking in Hindi. The two leaders would discuss co-development and co-production of new defence technologies, including submarines and naval platforms, to meet not only their own needs but also those of friendly third countries, he added.

“There is scope for increasing cooperation between our defence space agencies. We are moving forward on French companies setting up MRO (maintenance, repair, overhaul) facilities and producing spare parts and helicopter engines in India. We will focus on making this cooperation stronger,” Modi said.

In the civil nuclear domain, the two sides will discuss the scope for cooperation on small and advanced modular nuclear reactors, he said without giving details.

Though it had been widely anticipated that the two countries would make announcements about India procuring 26 Rafale Marine combat jets, there was no official word on this matter. India’s defence acquisition council (DAC) had on Thursday cleared the Indian Navy’s proposals to acquire the jets and the three submarines from France.

Macron, who spoke before Modi, recalled the role played by Indian soldiers in past wars and in Friday’s Bastille Day Parade, at which Modi was the guest of honour. He said the armed forces of the two sides are in close contact and both countries are working to maintain peace and security and ensure respect for international laws, including in the Indo-Pacific.

The work done by India and France on renewable energy and countering plastics are just two examples of how their cooperation can lead to success in many fields, Macron said. India is France’s second largest trading partner in Asia, and the two sides are also exploring new areas in steel, space, energy, civil nuclear cooperation and technology, he said.

Modi said the presence of an Indian tri-services contingent in the Bastille Day Parade was a “splendid picture” of the growing bilateral cooperation. At a time when the two sides are observing 25 years of their strategic partnership, this can be used as a solid foundation for preparing a roadmap for the next 25 years in which they can set bold and ambitious targets, he said.

“Indians are committed to build a developed country, and we see France as a natural partner in this journey,” Modi said. He welcomed another long-term agreement between Indian Oil and France’s Total company for the supply of LNG, saying this will bolster the country’s clean energy transition goals.

Modi added, “We should work with like-minded countries for democratising technology supply chains. Climate change and protecting the environment are a shared and important priority. After setting up the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which has become a movement, we now want to speedily work on a roadmap for the blue economy and ocean governance.”

As resident powers in the Indo-Pacific, India and France have a special responsibility for region peace and stability and to give concrete shape to collaboration in this sphere, both sides are working on an “Indo-Pacific cooperation roadmap”, he said. The two sides are discussing a proposal for an Indo-Pacific triangular development cooperation fund that will open new doors for start-ups and innovation.

Also read: 'Will begin from Eiffel Tower': PM Modi on India's UPI use in France

Referring to the successful launch of the Chandrayaan moon mission, Modi said there has been deep cooperation between the Indian and French space agencies, and the two sides had finalised new agreements on satellite launch services, measuring land and sea temperatures, and weather monitoring. This includes the making of the Trishna satellite.

“In areas like space-based maritime domain awareness we can increase cooperation. India and France have also had deep people-to-people contacts for long, and this will become stronger after our talks. In southern France, we will open a new consulate in Marseilles,” Modi added.

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