| Michelle Alliot Marie
New Delhi, April 28: France today urged India to work towards strengthening “an international democracy” in the wake of the Iraq war and offered long-term technology transfer in military equipment.
French minister of defence Michelle Alliot Marie, who led a six-member delegation, met her Indian counterpart George Fernandes and the chiefs of staff committee.
“Our conversations touched upon Afghanistan, Iraq and relations with neighbours, including China.… I think the situation created in Iraq necessitates strengthening international institutions. If we want to avoid crises and wars it is necessary for countries to respect international law. That is the conviction of France and of India,” she said after the meeting.
Fernandes returned from China last night.
Speaking in the context of the Iraq war, she said: “It is absolutely useless to cry over spilt milk. As soon as possible, the UN should regain its role for the reconstruction of Iraq. As soon as possible, the Iraqis should take charge of the political situation in their country.”
She said in the current global scenario it was necessary that countries like India and France forge close military-to-military ties and that France was greatly interested in the “deepening of the intensity of its defence relations with New Delhi”.
Sources said India and France were working out an agreement to sign a $2-billion deal to manufacture Scorpene submarines.
The French minister expected the deal to reach fruition by the end of the year.
She said: “In the long term, it (India-France defence relationship) will get deeper and develop as well. This is not only because of our bilateral relations but because we have similar vision. We think there should be something like international democracy. That is why we are talking of a multi-polar world.”
“It is necessary that each country in the world should be able to express its own sensitivities and at the same time a country can only be firm only if it has credible defence.”
On the Indian side, the talks were attended by, apart from Fernandes, defence secretary Subir Dutta, secretary (defence production) N.S. Sisodia and scientific advisor V.K. Atre. The French team included Lt Gen Jean Paul Pannie, director of international affairs, French defence ministry, Vice-Admiral Francoi Dupont, Vice-Admiral Herve Giraud and French ambassador to India, Dominic Giraud.