I’ll be meeting Longuet on Friday [Done. See here]. If you folks have any questions about the Rafale offer or anything else to do with Indo-French defence relations, let me have them.
Things Pink, French Defence Minister Hits Delhi Tomorrow
French defence minister Gérard Longuet (2nd from right, after a recent Rafale flight) is scheduled to meet Indian defence minister AK Antony and Chief of Air Staff PV Naik tomorrow in New Delhi. Things are pink. The French expect to land a $2.4-billion contract to upgrade the IAF’s Mirage-2000 jets, and the country’s Rafale has, as you no doubt know, made it to the final phase of the IAF’s M-MRCA fighter competition. Just wondering if the Indian defence minister, who has a propensity to bring up arms sales to Pakistan (always with a knowing smile) with just about anyone who knocks on his door, will have a thing or two to say to Minister Longuet. Earlier this month, when Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited Paris, fresh from having Neptune’s Spear thrust into his country, the French defence minister made an unscheduled call on the visiting dignitary. Meeting the French defence minister was not on Gilani’s official agenda, and therefore the unofficial meeting was seen as France doing what the Indian government positively destests — “doing it with both sides”. Personally I think the Indian government places way too much on how other countries interact with Pakistan, but there it is.