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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman leaves for France tomorrow

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

will leave for on Wednesday night on a three-day visit, which comes in the backdrop of a huge controversy over the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from French

Officials sources said Sitharaman will hold wide-ranging talks with her French counterpart on ways to deepen strategic cooperation between the two countries and also deliberate on regional and global issues of mutual interests.

Sitharaman, who will hold with Parly the first edition of defence dialogue, will leave for late Wednesday night and conclude her visit on Saturday, they said.

The sources said besides exploring ways to boost bilateral defence cooperation, Sitharaman will also take stock of progress in the supply of 36 Rafale jets by to the under a Rs 58,000-crore deal.

had announced the procurement of a batch of 36 Rafale jets after talks with the then French on April 10, 2015 in The final deal was sealed on September 23, 2016.

The has been alleging massive irregularities in the deal, saying the government was procuring each at a cost of over Rs 1,670 crore as against Rs 526 crore finalised by the when it was negotiating the deal.

The has also been targeting the government over selection of Defence as an offset partner for The government has vehemently rejected the allegations and asserted that it did not have any role in the selection of Defence.

Last month, Hollande was quoted by French publication 'Mediapart' as saying that was given "no choice" on selection of the Indian partner for Dassault and the proposed the name of to partner with the French giant.

The former French president's comments triggered a massive political row.

Sources said Sitharaman will discuss with Parly ways to expand maritime security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The two ministers are also likely to deliberate on joint production of military platforms and weapons by the two countries.

French had visited in March during which the two countries decided to expand strategic ties and deepen counter-terror cooperation.

The two sides also inked a strategic pact providing for the use of each other's military facilities including opening naval bases to warships.

and Macron also decided to create an annual defence dialogue at the ministerial level to explore ways to further deepen defence and strategic ties.

Sitharaman and Parly will hold the first edition of the defence dialogue.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 09 2018. 21:15 IST