India, France sign $6 bn short range missile pact

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday announced conclusion of negotiations for $ 6 billion Short Range Surface-to-Air missile, visiting French President Francois Hollande gave a commitment that Paris will be "vigilant" on the issue of corruption in the context of defence deals.

On concerns in the wake of corruption in VVIP chopper deal, Hollande said, "I can here make the commitment that there will be nothing contrary to the principles... trade will be (conducted) on the rules of the trade, on the basis of competitiveness and fairness. Regarding corruption, we are vigilant, as India is, because it is an essential principle." Hollande also pitched for Rafale on the basis of "excellence" of the aircraft.

When asked about whether French defence cooperation with India makes China wary, Hollande quipped, "You don't want China to be angry with me, do you?" On a serious note, he said that France is supplying defence equipment to India because "India is a peaceful power".

Earlier, the PM said, "Discussions on MMRCA contract are progressing well." "We have concluded negotiations on the Short Range Surface-to-Air Missile, which, once approved by the government, will be co-developed, co-produced in India."

On the Jaitapur nuclear power project, Singh said, "We reiterated our commitment to its early implementation as soon as the commercial and technical negotiations, which have made good progress, are completed." The French President stressed during the discussions that the nuclear power plant at Jaitapur would incorporate the "highest safety standards".

Pascal case: 'Ready to meet victim's lawyers'

Asked about the case of French diplomat Pascal Mazurier who has been accused by his Indian wife of raping their minor daughter, Francois Hollande said his officials were ready to meet lawyers of the victim. It "is not for us to take sides", he said, adding that they have "full confidence in the Indian justice system". ENS

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