‘Rafale Was Selected After An Extremely Rigorous, Transparent Procedure’: Alexandre Ziegler

Both France and India have a major challenge — of countering terrorism, having faced attacks in Paris and Mumbai. What has been the level of co-operation between the two countries after 2008 on this front?

Counter-terrorism is the cornerstone of our strategic partnership with India. Both countries have faced terrible attacks and demonstrated their capacity to fight back. We are in full solidarity against terrorism. We know that in difficult times we can count on each other. France has very firmly condemned the terrorist attacks against India and called on decisive action to be taken against terrorist groups targeting India, particularly the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Cross-border terrorism has to stop. The emergence of Daesh/ISIS in South Asia is an added reason for strengthening our counter-terrorism cooperation. Concretely, we work at the United Nations and within the EU to list terrorist organisations and individuals. On the operational front, we are expanding cooperation with India and building a set of exchanges and joint actions between our special security forces, armed forces and cyber experts.

Defence has been another area of co-operation. There is the agreement on the Rafale fighter jets. Concerns have been raised over the deal by the Congress party. What are your views?

Our defence cooperation with India dates back to over 50 years. It is based on mutual trust and an all-weather friendship. India has acquired a formidable defence apparatus with the Rafale: it is the world’s best omnirole combat aircraft. The Rafale was selected for its outstanding performance and competitive price, after an extremely rigorous and transparent procedure conducted in full compliance with applicable Indian rules and regulations. This deal, which has been concluded in a government-to-government framework, will also contribute to the development of the Indian defence industry and benefit both major companies and SMEs in India.

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