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India, France discuss defence coop in backof Rafale probs

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Against the backdrop of difficulties in negotiations on Rafale fighter deal, top officials of India and France met in Paris during which the issue along with other subjects related to the defence cooperation were discussed.

At the meeting Indo-France High Defence Committee, the Indian side was headed by Defence Secretary R K Mathur while the French side was led by Secretary (International Relations) in Ministry of Defence.

"This is an annual meeting which discusses all issues and matters relating to the defence cooperation between the two sides," sources said here when asked if the Rafale deal was discussed.

India and France have been holding contract negotiations on supply of 126 Rafale aircraft since 2012 after the fighter aircraft was selected from among five contenders.

The negotiations have lately run into rough weather over a guarantee clause and a steep rise in price.

Making it clear that the ball is in France's court, India is insisting that Dassault Aviation, which manufactures Rafale, will have to meet the conditions of the Request for Proposal (RFP), which it had initially agreed to.

The situation has come to such a level that France has decided to send an empowered delegation later this month to "solve all remaining issues" to salvage the contract.

Recalling the last month's meeting between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and his French counterpart, sources said the French side was "told categorically to stick to the RFP".

Sources said both Ministers have exchanged letters on the issue in December and an "empowered delegation" would be visiting New Delhi soon.

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India  France  Defence  
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