Hollande & Modi Meet At Chandigarh’s Rock Garden

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Chandigarh: French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugged when they met at the historic Rock Garden in Chandigarh, created from the rubble from when the city was constructed. President Hollande, who is the Chief Guest at this year’s Republic Day parade in Delhi, arrived this afternoon.

Ahead of his three day visit, president Hollande said that the Rafale jet deal is “on the right track but agreeing on technicalities take time.”

“Rafale will pave the way for unprecedented industrial and technological cooperation including ‘Make in India’ for the next 40 years. Agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time, but we are on the right track,” President Hollande told the Press Trust of India.

Stating that France and India are united in their resolve to act against terror, President Hollande also said New Delhi is “fully justified” in demanding action by Pakistan in the Pathankot terror attack earlier this month.

The nearly Rs. 60,000 crore or $10-billion Rafale deal is expected to come up when the two leaders hold talks on Monday. The jets are key to the government’s $150-billion military modernisation drive. The Air Force has said it needs fighter jets urgently to face China and Pakistan.

In Chandigarh, President Hollande, along with PM Modi, will attend a business summit after visiting various landmarks in the city that has turned into a virtual fortress. Thousands of security personnel from Punjab, Haryana and para-military personnel are in Chandigarh

Security experts have assessed a “very real” ISIS threat. Earlier this month, a letter warning against President Hollande’s visit was received by the French consulate in Bengaluru.

At the Republic Day parade in Delhi on Tuesday, President Hollande will see French soldiers marching down Rajpath along with Indian troops, a first for any foreign army.

In his interview, the French President praised PM Modi, saying: “I congratulate PM Narendra Modi for his diplomacy reflecting both a sense of proportion and a strong determination.” In tweets welcoming Mr Hollande, PM Modi wrote: “President@fhollande & I will meet in Chandigarh & Delhi. We will build on the ground covered during our previous interactions.”

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