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Discussions to resolve contract differences on India’s planned purchase of Dassault Rafale fighters for its $20 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program are likely to top the agenda when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius begins a two-day visit to New Delhi on June 30.

Visiting French foreign minister Laurent Fabius on Monday said he was "very confident" of the outcome of his talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj here on the $20 billion deal for the Rafale combat aircraft.

Most of the negotiations with the French manufacturer over the deal has been closed, according to sources.

Fabius, the first European minister to touch base with the new Indian government, will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday and defence minister Arun Jaitley later on Monday.

Addressing a news conference after talks with Sushma Swaraj, Fabius said both sides discussed the situation in violence-hit Iraq.

To a question on status of negotiations on the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal to acquire 126 of the French fighter jets, the French minister said the "developments were very positive" and he was "very confident of the final outcome".

Fabius said France had "no particular concerns" about the Indian civil nuclear liability law.

He said France was keen to push trade with India to take it beyond the $18 billion at present and also push bilateral investment.

"Trust and partnership" he said were two words signifying the bilateral relations between India and France.

During his talks with Modi, the French foreign minister would also be extending an invite from President Francois Hollande to the Indian prime minister to visit France.

The prime minister's official visit to France could be in September, when Modi visits New York for the UN general assembly, Fabius said.

Fabius said France has "high ambition of the partnership" from the new Indian government.

To push tourism between the two countries, from Jan 3, 2015, France will be putting in place a new visa issuing procedure that will ensure visa in less than two days.

"This is an important step to strengthen tourism and exchanges between people," said Fabius, who is also looking after the tourism and trade portfolio.

He also said his visit has come at a time when the India's PSLV rocket launched a French satellite into space from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) was carrying the 714-kg French Earth Observation Satellite 'SPOT-7' as the main payload besides satellites from Germany, Singapore and Canada.
(By: IANS)

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