The first Rafale jet will be delivered to India in September and will be a strong signal of cooperation between India and France, said French minister Jean Baptiste Lemoyne. The remaining 35 fighter jets will be delivered one after one, he added.
Lemoyne, the Minister of State for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, is on a visit to India right after the BJP-led NDA returned to power at the Centre with a landslide victory in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. Controversy around the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighter jets from French company Dassault Aviation remained a hot topic during this election.
"The French government doesn't care about controversies and we've a roadmap, we just want to deliver. It's in the interest of the two countries. Rafale is a tool for better sovereignty for India," Lemoyne said.
Answering questions on the attempted break-in last month at Indian Air Force's Paris office which looks after various aspects of the Rafale deal, Lemoyne assured that investigation in underway in the matter and the Indian authorities will be updates as new details pour in.
Lemoyne also welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's proposal for a global conference to tackle the threat of terrorism, saying the fight against terror is at the heart of its priorities.
"Every single initiative to fight terrorism is welcome because it is a threat to every country in the world... So, everything that can be done to unite efforts is welcome. It's (terrorism) a global challenge like climate change. We will be closely looking at this initiative," he said.
"Fight against terrorism is at the heart of our priorities. France stands alongside India in this and I think we must address different things - cybersecurity, for example, is crucial (so is) the fight against financing terrorism. It's an everyday fight and I can say that we have strong relations on this front," Lemoyne said.
India and France worked closely to get Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist by the UN Security Council.
Lemoyne also talked about PM Modi's upcoming visit to France to participate in the G-7 meeting. "French President Emmanuel Macron and PM Modi have a strong relationship personally. This visit is to prepare for PM Modi's participation at G-7 Summit in August," he said.
Lemoyne met Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, and a Confederation of Indian Industry delegation on Monday before returning to France late night.