French Defence Minister to visit India

imgFrench Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will arrive in India on a three-day visit later this month to hold talks with his counterpart Manohar Parrikar during which the issue of the multi-billion dollar deal for Rafale combat aircraft is likely to come up.

He will arrive in India on November 30 and hold a series of meetings with top defence and government officials the next day.

Defence sources said the meeting with Parrikar will take place at the Army Battle Honour Mess rather than at the South Block.

This will be Parrikar’s first meeting with a foreign dignitary after he took charge of the Defence Ministry earlier this month.

Though sources said no “restricted meeting” is scheduled, the aircraft deal is likely to come up as the French government is keen to wrap it up as soon as possible.

The sources maintained that specific deals are not discussed in regular meetings.

Restricted meeting is one when the Ministers meet without officials being present.

Incidentally, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in June and had pushed for early purchase of Rafale combat jet planes.

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