Emphasizing the strong strategic and defence partnership between India and France, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra on Wednesday (local time) said that the defence cooperation between the two countries is in line with "our own domestic policy of Atmanirbharta (self-reliance)".
The Foreign Secretary made the remarks while addressing a press briefing at the conclusion of the bilateral and delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Answering a question of possible agreements during the talks on further upgradation and orders of the French fighter aircraft Rafale, Foreign Secretary said that the talks did not necessarily cover individual platforms.
"I think what you need to realise is when the two strategic partners speak, it covers the discussion in a format which is not necessarily focused on transactions on individual platforms," Foreign Secretary Kwatra said.
Talking further about the defence cooperation between India and France, the Foreign Secretary reiterated that the two countries "are very strong strategic partners, and also have a very strong defence partnership".
The context of defence partnership is defined in the case of our two countries by not just trade in different platforms, but it also extends to co-development, co-designing, co-manufacturing," Kwatra said.
"This is also very much in sync and in line with our own domestic policy of Atmanirbharta, which also ofcourse extends very strongly in the field of defence," he added.
"As seen in the timely delivery of the Rafale despite the pandemic, the two sides enjoy synergy in the field of defence," the joint statement read.
"Taking forward this momentum, and based on their mutual trust, both sides agreed to find creative ways for France's deeper involvement in the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' (Self-reliant India) efforts in advanced defence technology, manufacturing and exports, including through encouraging increased industry to industry partnerships," the statement added.
Both sides also welcomed the "ongoing intense cooperation across all defence domains" in the joint statement.
Answering another question, on the possibility of co-production of Rafale aircraft with France in India by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Foreign Secretary Kwatra said that he could not comment specifically on that, but highlighted that there are many possibilities.
"With regard to the co-production, possibilities... look, it's a very broad scope, and it's a very broad field of substance, and anything can be discussed and is possible in terms of what two countries can eventually agree to co-produce," Kwatra said.
"So, I don't have a very specific answer to give you on that, but I think, it includes many possibilities," he added.
The comments came on the final day of the three-day Europe visit of PM Modi, during the course of which the Prime Minister visited Germany and Denmark, before making a brief stopover in Paris.
"Delighted, as always, to meet my friend President @EmmanuelMacron. We talked at length about bilateral as well as global issues. India and France are proud developmental partners with our partnership spread across different sectors," PM Modi said about his interactions with the French President.
PM Modi emplaned for India after the conclusion of his engagements in Paris on Wednesday (local time).
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