French President Francois Hollande coming to India
Some half dozen ministers will also be accompanying the French President, who was elected President in May last year, and his India visit is being viewed as a significant milestone in bilateral relationship.
Besides defence and nuclear energy, the other key issues which will be discussed include urban development, education, research and development, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy.
How ever no major agreements -- for the French multi-role combat aircraft, Rafale, or for the French nuclear power reactors -- would be signed during the visit.
The negotiations on both the fronts have been going on for more than a year and sources on both sides indicated during the recently concluded Aero India that the negotiations were moving ahead steadily, but it was unrealistic to put a time frame in view of the complexity of the deals involved.
The multi-billion dollar Rafale deal is the world's single biggest defence deal in history and perhaps also the biggest deal in which nearly 85 percent of the equipment would be manufactured in the buying country. The negotiations are advancing in five sub-committees, which are looking at all aspects including price and technology transfer.
According to MoD officials, the MMRCA deal is likely to be inked later this year.
The visiting leader on Feburary 14 will hold delegation level talks with Prime minister Manmohan Singh, while External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will pay a call on him.
On Feb 15, apart from delivering a lecture at the Nehru Memorial Museum, he will then visit Mumbai where he will participate in a business conference, a statement from MEA said.
The CEOs of a number of large French companies in the urban development sector are accompanying the president and there are high expectations of a string of deals being signed on the sidelines of the visit.
These include a deal involving Alstom, Thales et al for the Bengaluru Metro.
On the strategic front, Hollande will discuss a host of issues, including the situation in Mali, Syria, Af-Pak and also global issues like climate change and the WTO talks.
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