India and France on Friday discussed the situation in Afghanistan, issues relating to terror in the region and piracy that is being tackled by both nations in the Gulf of Aden.
French Defence Minister Herve Morin compared notes with his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony here on a number of issues relating to the security situation in South Asia and global security issues. Both sides also held delegation level talks.
Mr. Morin told The Hindu that the talks were held in the run-up to the visit of President Nicolas Sarkozy to India next year. He also attended a reception hosted by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma on the occasion of the Navy Day.
Mr. Morin, who spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said Dr. Singh mentioned of his meeting with Mr. Sarkozy at Port-of-Spain last month.
As for Afghanistan, where France has deployed troops, he said there was a great appreciation in Paris about New Delhi’s role in rebuilding the war-ravaged country. Paris also offered support to Islamabad to tackle terrorism, but was cautious not to upset its strategic relations with New Delhi.
Referring to the joint exercises by the two countries’ Navies and Air Forces, Mr. Morin said France would like to have a similar engagement between the two armies and cooperate with India in the fight against terror by sharing intelligence.
France attached great importance to India in the region and would like to expand bilateral relations. “We don’t want a buyer-seller relationship, and exchanged views on a broad range of issues,” Mr. Morin said.
France is eyeing a major share in India’s plan to modernise its armed forces, including the acquisition of 126 Multi-Role Medium Range Combat Aircraft and the Light Utility Helicopters and Mirage fighter aircraft upgrades. France has been building six Scorpene class submarines in India’s Mazagon Docks under a transfer of technology agreement.