|French President Francois Hollande speaks at the India-France Economic Conference in Mumbai, India, Feb. 15, 2013. France Friday expressed its confidence in India and hailed New Delhi's commitment to peace, with visiting President Francois Hollande reiterating Paris' support to India's bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council. (Xinhua/Stringer)
NEW DELHI, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- France Friday expressed its confidence in India and hailed New Delhi's commitment to peace, with visiting President Francois Hollande reiterating Paris' support to India's bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
The French president, who is on a two-day trip, also hailed India's policy of resolving disputes through peaceful means, thus avoiding conflicts, a day after the two countries negotiated defense pacts and inked agreements related to cooperation in key sectors like education, research, space, railways and culture.
"Today we ask for India to be a full-fledged member of the United Nations Security Council to reflect the current realities. We ask because 17 percent of humanity is here. We ask because the security of the world needs India's presence and we ask because India is a power of peace," he told a gathering at a lecture session in the national capital.
Hollande assured India that France would do its bit in strengthening security along the Indian Ocean and would help the Indian mission in the security of the region.
The French president, who is on his first visit to Asia since taking office last May, led a high-powered delegation composed of cabinet ministers, several officials and business leaders.
He urged India to use its friendship and influence with Iran to bring it to negotiating table on its controversial nuclear program.
"We know India and its people are close to Iran and North Korea. It is all the more important that India convinces this great country of Iran to enter into a serious negotiations to respect international obligations and nuclear non-proliferation," he said.
Hollande on Thursday met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and pushed for the Rafale jet deal, one of this country's biggest defense deals which entails the purchase of 12 billion U.S. dollar worth Rafale fighter jets. The deal has been on the negotiating table since January last year.
Assuring that the deal would be graft-free, the French President said: "I can give my commitment that there will not be anything different (in the Rafale deal). There will be nothing contrary to principles common to us. We are vigilant like India to curb corruption."
Both India and France had also concluded negotiations on the short range surface-to-air missiles, which, once approved by the government, will pave the way for joint production of the missile.
"We share similar world views on many issues, including on the need to stabilize the global economy and combat terrorism," Hollande said at a joint media meet Thursday in the Indian capital.
The Indian Prime Minister reciprocated: "India regards France as one of its most valued strategic partners that has given us strong and steadfast support at difficult moments."
Experts say that France is wooing the Indian defense sector, given the fact that India is the world's largest importer of arms. If the Rafale jet deal is successful, France can definitely look forward to a pie of India's defense sector in years to come.