French defence minister to visit India, Rafale tops agenda

IndiaTv37f6db_jean_drianDays after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the purchase of 36 Rafale jets in a flyaway condition, France’s Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will be in India to discuss the modalities of the agreement for selling the aircraft and other issues having a bearing on India-France military relations.

“On Monday, he (Drian) will be in Qatar to sign another Rafale deal. He will be in India during next week,” French Ambassador to India Francois Richier said in Goa, where he had gone to see the 10-day Indo-France joint naval exercise.

The French envoy clarified that there won’t be any signing the contract for the Rafale purchase “because the agreement is just two weeks old, but he (the French defence minister) will set up negotiations with India.”

Mr Richier said that the purchase of Rafale jets is a testimony to the importance of fighter jets to countries like India, Egypt and Qatar, which are confronted with a host of security challenges. He cautiously said that it was good to be prudent while speaking about setting timelines for such a mammoth defence deal.

The French defence minister has struck an optimistic note about the future of the Rafale deal. “Thanks to the negotiation on MMRCA, we have worked out a lot of details on the specifics of technology. All this is there. All that work is not lost. It will serve as a basis for negotiation of this deal,” he said.

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