New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday spoke to his French counterpart Florence Parly, discussing with her ‘matters of mutual concern’, also stressing that France has affirmed its commitment to deliver the Rafale fighter aircraft on time.Also Read - India-China Standoff: 'Both Countries Talking to Each Other,' Rajnath Singh Breaks Silence
In a tweet today, he said, “Had a telephonic conversation with French Minister of Armed Forces, Ms. Florence Parly today. We discussed matters of mutual concern including COVID-19 situation, regional security and agreed to strengthen the Bilateral Defence Cooperation between India and France.” Also Read - India-China Border Standoff: US Defence Secretary Mark Esper Holds Talks With Rajnath Singh
“We also appreciated the efforts made by Armed Forces of India and France in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. France has affirmed its commitment to ensure timely delivery of Rafale Aircraft despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. Also Read - India-China Ladakh Face-off: PM Modi Chairs High-Level Meet, Rajnath Too Takes Stock of Situation | Top 10 Points
Notably, India received its first Rafale fighter jet last October, with the Defence Minister himself going to Paris to receive it. However, this jet, along with three other Rafale jets, will arrive in India by July-end after their delivery was delayed by two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
India and France had signed a Rs 60,000 crore deal in September 2016 for 36 Rafale fighter aircraft to meet the emergency requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Today’s conversation between the Defence Minister and his French counterpart also comes in the backdrop of ongoing India-China standoff in Ladakh. Last week, he had spoken to his US counterpart Mark Esper as well.