New Delhi - France had offered India a e1 billion (R14.4bn) credit line to fund sustainable infrastructure and urban development projects, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said yesterday.

The credit line would be available over three years and would be delivered through the French Development Agency, Fabius told reporters in New Delhi after beginning his visit to India on Monday.

India, which has said it needs $1 trillion (R10.7bn) of investment by 2017 to upgrade its creaking infrastructure, is keen to attract foreign development agencies and companies to help finance new roads, railways and cities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took office at the end of May, has vowed to focus on infrastructure.

“If you don’t have the share of technology and the share of finance, you can develop brilliant ideas, but [you will have] nothing concrete,” Fabius said at an event about sustainable growth and climate change.

He is the first of a string of Western politicians due to visit India over the next few weeks for talks with Modi and his government, drawn in part by the prospect of lucrative defence deals that stalled under the last administration.

After meetings with ministers in Modi’s cabinet on Monday, Fabius expressed confidence that there would be a “positive outcome” to negotiations on a $12bn deal to sell Rafale combat aircraft to India.

The deal to supply 126 Rafale fighter jets made by Dassault Aviation has been under final negotiations since January 2012 after the French company pipped the Americans, Europeans and Russians.

The contract, which involves technology-sharing and the production of most of the planes in India, has been making slow progress through vetting and evaluation. - Reuters