French Defence Minister could visit India for Rafale talks
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is likely to arrive in India next week to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar to carry forward the over US $6 billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets.
Defence Ministry sources said Drian will hold talks with Parrikar on Monday over the plan to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to France. “He is coming down to firm up the modalities as India wants the fighter aircraft as soon as possible,” the sources said. French sources, however, said a date is yet to be fixed and it has been announced by French President Francois Hollande that Drian will accompany him to Qatar on May 4.
“The French are trying to fix a date after that,” the sources said. Qatar today announced its decision to acquire 24 Rafale fighter jets. The deal with India is also likely to have a 30 per cent offset clause valuing to nearly US $2 billion that the Indian private industry will be eyeing.
The defence sources have pegged the deal at over US $6 billion including the cost of the 36 aircraft, armament and spares. Modi and French President Hollande had on April 11 agreed to conclude an Inter-Governmental Agreement for supply of the aircraft on terms that would be better than conveyed by Dassault Aviation for the 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender.