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India, France ink 14 pacts; major boost to defence, nuclear energy cooperation

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

In a major expansion of strategic ties, and today inked 14 pacts in key areas of defence, security, and protection of classified information besides resolving to deepen cooperation in the region and step up joint efforts to contain terrorism.

The agreements were signed after extensive talks between and French Emmanuel Macron, including on the changing security dynamics in the and Pacific.

The visiting leader asserted that the sea lanes cannot be places for hegemonic power play, in a clear reference to

The pacts included reciprocal logistic support between the armed forces of the two countries and another on protection of classified or protected information, an agreement that comes in the backdrop of the refusing to divulge details of the multi-billion dollar fighter jet deal.

"Our defence cooperation is very strong and we consider among the most trusted defence partners," Modi said at a joint media event with Macron.

He said that the pact on reciprocal logistic support between the armed forces was a "golden step" in defence relations.

Modi said that both sides have agreed to strengthen cooperation in ensuring freedom of navigation, overflight as will play a key role in ensuring regional peace and stability.

Noting that defence cooperation between the two countries now has a "new significance", Macron talked about the Scorpene submarine project for the and the fighter jet deal for the

"had made a sovereign decision in this respect (fighter jet) and we are monitoring the progress in the field. We very much want to continue the programme. It is a long-term contract which is mutually beneficial. I personally consider it as the heart of the strategic partnership," Macron said.

had signed a government-to-government deal with in 2016 to buy 36 fighter jets at a cost of about the Rs 58,000-crore. The has been demanding details of the deal, alleging that the deal negotiated under its rule was much cheaper then the contract signed by the Modi government.

On maritime security, the French said both the countries will have "unprecedented" level of cooperation to ensure peace and stability in the and Pacific.

He said space agencies of both countries will have joint monitoring mechanism for developments in the maritime sphere, while navies of the two nations will share intelligence and call their respective military bases for any requirement.

In his statement, Modi said that the strategic partnership between the two countries may be just 20-years-old, but the cultural and spiritual partnership was even older.

"The values of liberty, equality and fraternity echo not just in France but are also deeply enshrined in India's Constitution as well," the said.

Macron also said effectively containing threats of terrorism and radicalisation are going to be key elements in the strategic cooperation between the two countries. He particularly also talked about threat of Islamist terrorism.

"The trust that we share is protecting us as our interests are aligned," said Macron.

He further said, "We want India as our first strategic partner here, and we want to be India's first strategic partner in Europe, and even in the western world."

The agreement on protection of classified information defines the common security regulations applicable to any exchange of classified and protected information.

Another pact provides for a way forward for the implementation of the Jaitapur nuclear power project.

The two countries also inked pacts for cooperation in other areas, including railways, environment, solar energy, maritime awareness and checking trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

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

First Published: Sat, March 10 2018. 16:55 IST