New Delhi: Expressing “steadfast and friendly support” of its armed forces, French Defence Minister Florence Parly has written to India’s Rajnath Singh condoling the death of 20 soldiers in Galwan Valley in clashes with China.
Parly’s support comes at a time when France has already diverted game-changing missiles meant for its air force to India amid the rising tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
In a letter Monday, Parly said: “This (Galwan deaths) was a hard blow against the soldiers, their families and the nation. In these difficult circumstances, I wish to express my steadfast and friendly support, along with that of the French armed forces. I request you to kindly convey my heartfelt condolences to the entire Indian armed forces as well as to the grieving families”.
She also expressed her readiness to meet Defence Minister Singh, at his invitation, to “follow up on their ongoing discussions”.
The strong words of support by the French was welcomed by officials in the Indian defence establishment, saying both sides are strategic partners.
As reported by ThePrint, at least four Rafale fighters will land in India on 27 July and can be operationally deployed sooner because the French have diverted missiles meant for itself to India.
The initial plan was for the missiles to start arriving in October.
An old friend of India’s
France has never shied away from promoting India’s interests on the global platform, from New Delhi’s stance on Kashmir at the United Nations Security Council and using the defence ecosystem to batting for the country at critical multilateral forums.
While the defence cooperation between both nations is well-known, a lesser-known fact is that it was because the French took the lead that India was able to join three of the four critical nuclear non-proliferation regimes — the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.
It was in 1953 when defence ties between India and France took off with the procurement of the ‘Toofani’ combat aircraft made by French firm Dassault Aviation, makers of the Rafale.
France was also the only western country to support India after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government conducted nuclear tests in 1998.