French-Indian Rafale deal to wrap up in `months`: Minister

A deal between France and India to sell 126 Rafale fighter jets to India in a deal worth an estimated USD 15 billion will need several months more negotiations, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.

Paris: A deal between France and India to sell 126 Rafale fighter jets to India in a deal worth an estimated USD 15 billion will need several months more negotiations, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.

Le Drian`s comments came after the Indian Defence Ministry said this week it had agreed with the French Defence Ministry to fast-track negotiations and seek to overcome differences in talks that have been ongoing since January 2012.

"We are in a positive process, I hope it will come to a successful conclusion. It has progressed well," Le Drian told BFM-TV. 

Le Drian said it would not happen before the end of the year, however.

"It`s not three weeks ... it`s several months, we`ll see. But I`m optimistic."

Last month, the CEO of Dassault Aviation told a news agency that a contract by the end of March was a "reasonable goal."

France`s Dassault has been trying to clinch a deal to sell India its Rafale jets since New Delhi chose the company over other foreign plane manufacturers in 2012. 

Disagreements over cost and work-sharing slowed talks, as well as elections in India.

Under the deal, which would provide a major boost to French domestic defence manufacturing, the first 18 planes will be made in France and shipped to India, while the remaining 108 will be produced by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd .

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