French Defence minister to visit India, push Rafale deal

New Delhi, Feb 22: French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will arrive here on Monday to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar in what is seen as a fresh attempt to firm up the faltering multi-billion dollar Rafale deal.

Defence sources said that Drian will be in India as part of an official visit to a few other countries including UAE. He will hold a fresh round of talks with Parrikar just two months after they met and decided to "fast-track" the contract negotiations for the nearly USD 10-billion deal for Rafale fighter jets.

fighter jets

Sources said that the French Minister will focus on firming up the deal ahead of an expected visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France a couple of months from now.

Parrikar had recently said that he would not comment on the Rafale deal as the Contract Negotiations Committee was discussing it. However, he has asked the CNC to fasten the process. The Indian Air Force Chief has stressed on the need to have a Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft, for which Rafale was shortlisted.

Confident of signing the much delayed contract with India "soon", French Defence major Dassault had last week said its pricing remains the same from day one and it has not wavered from the request for proposal (RPF). It had also said an empowered team has already arrived in India and carried forward the talks as decided by the Defence Ministers of the two countries in December.


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