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Hollande aims to bolster jet fighter deal in state visit to India

French President Francois Hollande has arrived in India for a three-day visit. He is set to head to New Delhi for talks on Monday to shore up a troubled multibillion dollar jet fighter deal.

Hollande, who began his trip in the northern city of Chandigarh on Sunday, said he was "optimistic" that an inter-governmental accord would pave the way for a final contract that would be agreed on Monday.

He added however, that negotiating the fine details of such a deal "obviously takes time."

A senior French official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters on Sunday that the two sides were still haggling over the price, which experts say could reach around 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion).

Hollande will also be a guest of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Tuesday's Republic Day military parade. His presence is intended to symbolize the close relationship between the two countries.

Nuclear reactors, security and cooperation

Hollande's delegation to India includes the ministers of defense, foreign affairs, economy and culture as well as dozens of top corporate leaders.

Also on the agenda are discussions for French nuclear company Areva to build six reactors in western India. Negotiations have been stuck over the price, and French utility EDF's recent takeover of Areva's reactor business has slowed progress.

Modi and Hollande will also discuss ways to increase security and intelligence cooperation.

av/cmk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)