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France suspends $1.6 bn defence contract to Pak: Report

The JF-17 fighter aircraft. Pakistan had sought the electronic hardware and missiles from France for its JF-17 fighters.

PARIS (BNS): The French Government has decided to suspend a military contract worth US$ 1.6 billion to Pakistan citing that it would affect Indo-French strategic relations, according to a French newspaper.

Quoting an advisor to the French President Nikolas Sarkozy, the Le Monde newspaper said, "The refusal is, inter alia, related to French-Indian relations.

“The signing of this contract, in the current context of tension between India and Pakistan, would serve the interests of Paris to New Delhi," it said.

As per the contract, Pakistan was to get electronic equipment and missiles for its JF-17 fighter aircraft it has developed with the Chinese help. Three French companies – OTE, Thales and MBDA – were selected to supply the defence material to Pakistan.

The newspaper, quoting the Directorate General for Armaments (DGA) authorities, also said that the revival of talks with India for the modernisation of the Indian Air Force's Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft fleet "also played in the decision of the Elysee."

The government's approval was also put on hold due to lack of guarantees (by Pakistan) related to the protection of French technology and also due to budgetary issues, the report said.

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