NEW DELHI: India and France have agreed to work together on the joint production of defence equipment including helicopters and submarines for the Indian armed forces and production for friendly countries, New Delhi said on Friday.

The deal was reached during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended a state banquet hosted by President Draupadi Murmu, the government said in a statement.

Macron and Modi agreed to expand bilateral ties in defence production, nuclear energy, space research and the use of artificial intelligence for public services like climate change, health and agriculture, the statement said. It did not specify the value of any deals.

After Russia, France is the largest arms supplier to India, which has relied on its fighter jets for four decades.

The leaders welcomed the setting up of maintenance, repair and overhaul services by France’s Safran for leading-edge aviation pro­pulsion (LEAP) engines in India and adding such services for Rafale engines, and a helicopter partnership.

The bilateral summit during Macron’s 40-hour visit, was the fifth Macron-Modi meeting since May. India’s Tata Group and France’s Airbus have signed an agreement to manufacture civilian helicopters together, Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2024

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