Modi rejigs Europe, Canada itinerary to put Paris first
With space cooperation, nuclear power and defence hardware on his mind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rejigged his week-long Europe-Canada tour next month to make Paris the first stop on April 10, followed by Bonn and finally Toronto.Updated: Mar 04, 2015, 00:11 IST
With space cooperation, nuclear power and defence hardware on his mind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rejigged his week-long Europe-Canada tour next month to make Paris the first stop on April 10, followed by Bonn and finally Toronto.
South Block sources said Modi will visit France on April 10-11 after which he will attend the inauguration of the Hannover Fair in Germany where India is a partner.
The PM will then proceed to Canada where the highlight will be a public meeting at Toronto that will be attended by a large number by NRIs.
While India and France signed a civilian nuclear agreement in 2008 with Areva selling 300 tons of nuclear fuel to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the possibility of a commercial agreement on supply of European pressurised reactors (EPR) for proposed 9,900-MW Jaitapur plant depends largely on economic and technical viability. After India reached closure with the US on nuclear liability issues, forward movement on purchase of six reactors with fuel from France will pivot on commercial negotiations between Areva and NPCIL.
“The supply of EPRs will be on top of PM Modi’s agenda but much depends on the closure of commercial negotiations between the two companies,” said an Indian diplomat.
The other deal that will come up for discussion between Modi and French President Francois Hollande is the sale of 126 Dassault Rafale medium range multi-role combat aircraft to India. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has made it clear that any price escalation by the vendor is non-negotiable, and has asked the two companies — Dassault and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) — to work out their differences.
It is learnt that HAL wants guarantees from the French defence major for all 126 fighters but Dassault is willing to give such commitment on the 18 fighters that will be purchased off the shelf and not for the remaining 108 to be produced by HAL under transfer of technology. “Both companies had prepared a matrix of responsibilities but it was rejected by the defence ministry. New Delhi is now open to the idea that Dassault seek a counter-guarantee from HAL that it will stick to timelines,” said a senior official.
The third big ticket deal that could be closed during PM Modi’s visit is launch of a satellite with electronic intelligence systems (ELINT) package that will boost Indian strategic capability in the sub-continent.