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Have requested France to provide 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible: Modi

Apr 10, 2015 12:39 PM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday requested French President Francois Hollande to sign a major defence deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets for IAF in order to boost India's military capabilities and infrastructure.

Addressing a conference with the France President, Modi said, "I have requested 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition as quickly as possible."

The deal overrides the MMRCA process in which Dasault Rafale was lowest bidder for 126 aircraft. The final signing of the MMRCA deal is yet to take place as India and France have some differences over the final amount.

India is keen to finish the acquisition before 2017 when a large number of old MiG squadrons will have to be phased out.

Modi arrived in France on Thursday night, the first leg of his three-nation tour. During his four-day stay, Modi will hold talks with Hollande and meet business leaders and the focus of the talks will be civil nuclear, defence and trade.

The two leaders are also expected to unveil Franco-Indian stamps. The highlight of the trip will be a boat ride on the Seine river which is being described as 'Naav pe charcha'.

In France, the Prime Minister will also visit the World War-I memorial and pay tributes to about 10,000 Indians who lost their lives while fighting alongside France. He will also visit UNESCO headquarters, Airbus facility and French space agency office.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "The Prime Minister will discuss all issues including those of strategic nature. There will be discussions on defence and nuclear matters."

On the question of promoting 'Make in India' concept, Akbaruddin said, "'Make in India' is PM Modi's most important goal and he will promote the concept in France."

After wrapping up the first leg of his tour, Modi will head to Germany, where business and technology will be the focus his engagements aimed at attracting participation in the 'Make in India' campaign.

In the third and last leg of his tour, Modi will travel to Canada, marking the first standalone visit by an Indian Prime Minister in over 42 years.