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Nirmala Sitharaman begins 3-day visit to France Thursday

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

will begin a three-day visit to on Thursday during which both sides are expected to deliberate on further boosting their already close defence and security ties.

Sitharaman's visit comes in the backdrop of a huge controversy over the procurement of 36 Rafale jets from French Aviation.

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.

They said Sitharaman will also take stock of progress in the supply of 36 Rafale jets by to the under a Rs 58,000 crore deal. There was indication that she may even visit the facility where the jets are being manufactured.

In their talks, Sitharaman and Parly are expected to deliberate on joint production of military platforms and weapons by the two countries.

Earlier this year, was pitching for starting negotiations for procurement of another batch of 36 Rafale jets by However, was not keen on pursuing it.

In April, the started the process to acquire a fleet of 114 fighter jets and Aviation has emerged as one of the key contenders for the contract.

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 aircraft 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 Dassault. 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.

The government has vehemently rejected the allegations and asserted that it did not have any role in the selection of Defence.

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

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.

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

First Published: Wed, October 10 2018. 21:45 IST