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Our Defence Ties Have Never Been Stronger, Says French Ambassador To India Alexandre Ziegler

BW Businessworld chats with French ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler on the growing ambit of the defence partnership between the two countries

In 2016 India inked an agreement with France to acquire 36 Rafale multi-role combat aircraft to boost the depleting squadron strength of the Indian Air Force. A collaboration had already begun by then with the French Naval Group for six Scorpene-class submarines. Manish Kumar Jha of BW Businessworld chats with French ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler on the growing ambit of the defence partnership between the two countries. Excerpts:

Do you see any substantial change in the business of defence in India since 2014?

Defence ties between India and France are strong and very old, dating back to India’s Independence. More than in any other sector, they must be based on a very solid relationship of trust carand an identical concept of strategic independence.

We have already done a lot together, not only on industrial cooperation, but also on operational aspects. Together with India, we are currently developing a strong operational cooperation in the field of maritime security in the Indian Ocean, which will also uphold our technological and industrial partnerships.

Our partnership is a long-term partnership. When you engage in a programme like the Rafale, for example, you commit to the next fifty years. This is to say how much our defence relationship has always been, is and will be transpartisan. This is what characterised our strategic partnership, since its inception in 1998. The main armament contracts signed in recent years between our two countries (Scorpene in 2005, renovation of Mirage 2000 in 2011 and 2012, Rafale in 2016) have been concluded with different governments both in India and France.

But it is true that our defence ties have never been stronger than today and the State visit of the President of the French Republic to India in March has given it a new impetus. I would especially mention the Indo-French collaboration in the Indian Ocean, around which we are developing a very ambitious partnership of security and defence.

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