Rafale deal: French Defence minister to visit Delhi next week

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit India next week during which a government- to-government framework agreement for the 36 Rafale fighter jets is likely to be signed, which will pave the way for inking of the final contract.

New Delhi: French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit India next week during which a government- to-government framework agreement for the 36 Rafale fighter jets is likely to be signed, which will pave the way for inking of the final contract.

Defence sources said Drian will arrive here on Tuesday and is scheduled to meet the top leadership.

The visit comes amid a deadlock in the talks for the fighter jets over the issues of off-set, tweaking of weaponry technology among others.

The sources said discussions were held at the "highest level" on both sides to get over the roadblocks.

"One of the parties had to relent. The French have agreed to the Indian conditions," one of the sources told PTI.

It is expected that if all goes well, the contract for the 36 Rafales will be inked soon, which will come as a huge relief to the Indian Air Force which has been eyeing the aircraft for over a decade.

India's insistence on 50 per cent off-set clause, tweaking of weaponry technology and plans to set up two bases for Rafale fighter jets were some of the issues which had cropped up during the recent talks that began after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision to acquire 36 Rafales jets during his trip to France in April.

The announcement had come as a boost for the modernisation plan of IAF as the original deal for 126 Rafale jets through a tendering process was stuck for years. India has constituted a committee headed by Air Marshal SBP Sinha to hold negotiations with France.

France was offering the Rafale jets at almost the same price its Air Force is buying it from the original manufacturer Dassault Aviation.

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