Discouraging Pak Requests For Heavy Weapons, Naval Stuff: French Defence Minister

"They did come up in my discussions with the Indian Defence Minister, India's concerns [over France's supply of military hardware to Pakistan]. We supply Pakistan equipment that enables them to intercept terrorist communications. And we have decided to discourage any requests from Pakistan for heavy equipment, notably naval equipment," French Defence Minister GĂ©rard Longuet said in response to a question I put to him this morning at a press conference in Delhi.

Asked if France, which has supplied several large military systems to Pakistan including fighter aircraft and submarines in the past, was reviewing its military supply policy to Islamabad, Longuet said, "We are awaiting certain clarifications from Pakistan." He did not say what those clarifications were, or when he expected them. They are, presumably, about Pakistan's sponsorship of terror groups on its soil and Afghanistan.

Asked about the M-MRCA, and US disappointment, the French Minister said, "The US might be sad [about its two aircraft being eliminated in the IAF M-MRCA contest], but with 50 per cent of the world arms market, they no doubt have other satisfactions." He added, "We have full confidence in Indian procedures. The government wants full transparency, and Dassault has been completely transparent." A team of US government officials met the Indian defence minister yesterday.

In an expected swipe at the Eurofighter consortium, the French Defence Minister said, "We are one country, and we have enjoyed a relationship since 1953. Dealing with one country you know well, I imagine, is better than dealing with four countries. It is just simpler."

Also, "There will be no restrictions on the use of our equipment. That is an assurance." He provided no further details on the Rafale offer.

On the IAF Mirage-2000 upgrade, Longuet said, "We are in the final stages of the upgrade agreement. It is up to the Indian political establishment to take a decision. We are confident that it will happen soon."

Photo Courtesy DPR Defence

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