Govt expects progress on Rafale fighter jet deal during PM Modi's France visit

"There will be substantive discussions on defence and nuclear issues. Wait for the outcome," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin added.

(Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)

Ahead of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande, the government on Friday said it expects "movement" on a proposal for setting up French nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in Maharashtra as well as Rafale fighter jet deal, both of which have been pending for long.

These issues, along with trade, will be high on the agenda of substantive discussions between Modi and the French President amid the government's keen interest to get participation of French companies in the 'Make in India' programme. Terrorism, against the backdrop of an attack in France's capital city three months back, will also be discussed.

"India and France are strategic partners. In this context, the issues of civil nuclear and defence cooperation will be discussed. The issues you referred to will also be discussed. We expect movement on these issues," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said in Paris when asked whether the two leaders will talk about Jaiitapur nuclear project and multi-billion dollar Rafale jet deal.

"There will be substantive discussions on defence and nuclear issues. Wait for the outcome," Akbaruddin added.

The Jaitapur project, where French company Areva is to set up six nuclear reactors with total power generation capacity of about 10,000 MW, is stuck for long because of differences over the cost of electricity to be generated.

Similarly, the deal to supply 126 Rafale fighter planes is also deadlocked because of differences over price.

The spokesman said the government expects French companies to participate in 'Make in India' programme in the field of defence as well as civil nuclear energy, "where India can make some nuclear installations with France."

Modi, who arrived in the France capital on Friday on a four-day visit, will also address two meetings with French CEOs - one on infrastructure and another on defence.

The Prime Minister will also have 'Naav pe Charcha' (chat on boat) with Hollande when they go for a cruise on Seine river which passes through Paris.