AP News

India, France review pending defense deal


NEW DELHI (AP) — India and France on Thursday reviewed progress in a multibillion-dollar deal to build French fighter jets for the Indian air force and a separate agreement to construct the world's biggest civilian nuclear power complex in western India.

Visiting French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks in New Delhi that also focused on defense, regional security and cooperation in space exploration.

Last year, India agreed to an $11 billion deal to purchase 126 French combat aircraft. However, tough negotiations remain on costs, technology transfers and other details.

Indian officials say a final agreement on the fighter jets isn't likely before July.

Under the terms of the agreement signed in January last year, France's Dassault Aviation will deliver 18 fighter aircraft in "fly away" condition within three years. The remaining 108 fighters are to be built by India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. through technology transfers.

Indian and French experts are still working out the pricing details, including the cost of on-board weaponry and royalties for producing the aircraft in India.

French nuclear giant Areva and state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. of India are also fine-tuning an agreement to build six nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in India's Maharashtra state. When commissioned, the 9,900-megawatt complex will be the world's largest nuclear power station.

Hollande and Singh also witnessed the signing of four cooperation agreements Thursday on higher education, railways, cultural exchanges and space exploration.


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