Defence pact: Rafale deal with India will take time, says Hollande

Says discussions were needed on a prior inter-governmental agreement

Afp January 24, 2016
French President Francois Hollande. PHOTO: AFP

CHANDIGARH: France's President Francois Hollande played down the prospect of a swift conclusion to a drawn-out deal for New Delhi to buy 36 French jet fighters as he began a three-day visit to India Sunday.

The invitation for Hollande to be chief guest at India's Republic Day military parade on Tuesday had raised expectations the multibillion-dollar agreement for the Rafale jets would finally be sealed.

But after landing in the northern city of Chandigarh, Hollande cooled talk that the contract was on the verge of being signed. He said further discussions were needed on a prior inter-governmental agreement. "We are going to take another step on the road which we hope will lead us to India's acquisition of the 36 Rafale jets," Hollande told reporters.

"India needs them and France has shown that it has the world's best aircraft. "The commercial contract can only come after the inter-governmental accord... which will be discussed during my visit."

While Hollande said he was ‘optimistic’ about the inter-governmental accord being agreed on Monday, a senior French official acknowledged negotiations were still snagged on the price.

And in an interview with the Press Trust of India news agency, the French president said "agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time".

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th,  2016.


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