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India, France Find Common Cause On Counterterrorism

French President Francois Hollande (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive for a ceremony Monday to lay the foundation stone for the headquarters of the International Solar Allliance at Gurgaon, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India.

India and France have signed a "memorandum of understanding" on the sale of 36 French fighter jets to New Delhi.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said financial details of the agreement to buy the Rafale jets, manufactured by Dassault Aviation, have yet to be sorted but will soon be finalized. Reporting from New Delhi, NPR's Julie McCarthy says the defense deal was one of a number of pacts reached during extensive talks between Modi and French President Francois Hollande, who is on a three-day trip to India.

Apart from the multibillion-euro jet deal, Indian-French contacts have intensified over climate change and counterterrorism. Prime Minister Modi is said to have intensely watched France's handing of the terrorist attacks in Paris last year, while President Hollande condemned the assault on an Indian air base over the New Year's holiday weekend by suspected militants from Pakistan.

Hollande said his visit to India was aimed at reinforcing "cooperation against terrorism."

The two leaders also advanced their initiative on alternative energy announced during the recent climate summit in Paris: the International Solar Alliance, which is intended to increase the use of solar energy in developing nations.

Modi and Hollande rode the New Delhi metro to a site where they laid the cornerstone for the alliance's headquarters.

The French president is to be the special guest at India's Republic Day Parade on Tuesday, an honor extended to President Obama last year. In advance of the event, security in and around New Delhi has been greatly intensified.

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