Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday evening left for France on a three-day visit that would see her visiting the Dassault Aviation production plant that manufactures Rafale fighter jets besides other engagements.
Sitharaman, who will be in France till October 13, is leading a high-level delegation, which includes the Secretary, Defence Production.
The Minister will be holding talks with her French counterpart Florence Parly on various bilateral issues pertaining to defence cooperation including expanding bilateral maritime security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, sources in the Defence Ministry said.
Last year, the French Defence Minister had visited India.
Meanwhile, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, whose party has been levelling allegations of crony capitalism and compromising national interest in the Rs 59,000-crore Rafale deal against Narendra Modi government, raised questions over the timing and purpose of Sitharaman’s visit.
“The Supreme Court has asked for the Rafale decision making process. It’s quite simple really… The Prime Minister decided. The processes to justify his decision are yet to be invented. But work has begun,” Gandhi tweeted.
India is buying 36 Rafale jets from Dassault Aviation in a fly-away condition in a Rs 59,000-crore deal. The Congress has questioned the propriety of a newly-founded private company getting the Rs 30,000 crore Rafale offset contract at the cost of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).