Government approves Rafale deal

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) The government on Wednesday approved the deal with France for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets, sources said.

The deal was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security.

The government, however, chose to stay mum over the issue with no official words coming from the government or defence ministry.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, asked about the deal at the briefing on cabinet decisions, dodged the question and said the matter was not listed in the cabinet.

The sources said the an inter-governmental agreement, which could not be signed during French President Francois Hollande’s visit in January, is likely to be signed on Friday by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

According to sources, the deal will cost 7.87 billion euros, after tough negotiation from the Indian side which led to delay in finalisation of the deal, which includes weapons and spares apart from 36 jets in flyaway condition.

This also includes air-to-air Meteor missiles.

The deal also has a 50 per cent offset clause, which will bring investments to India.

A team from France was present in the national capital since last few weeks and hectic negotiations were on for conclusion of the deal.

According to sources, the Prime Minister’s Office has pushed for concluding the deal early, after more than year-long negotiations, during which the price was a major sticking point.

In 2012, India decided to ink a deal for 126 Rafale jets.

As the deal could not work out, another deal for purchasing 36 Rafale combat jets in fly-away condition was inked during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in April last year.

Both the sides also agreed to conclude an inter-governmental agreement for supply of the aircraft after which a negotiating team was constituted.

Drian arrives on Thursday evening along with CEOs of Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA and top government officials.

–IANS

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