Advancing negotiations on a deal to sell Rafale fighter aircraft to India will be high on the agenda when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius visits New Delhi. (Fred Dufour/AFP)
NEW DELHI — Discussions to resolve contract differences on India’s planned purchase of Dassault Rafale fighters for its $12 billion Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program are likely to top the agenda when French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius begins a two-day visit to New Delhi on June 30.
A diplomat in the French Embassy said they hope for an early conclusion of the contract for the Rafale, which has been negotiated for more than two years. India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Dassault officials have held dozens of meetings to iron out issues relating to transfer of technology, production processes and cost of the Rafale to be produced in India.
MoD sources said the negotiations will take “some more time,” and the French minister is unlikely to return to Paris with a firm commitment on the final time frame to sign the contract.
The Indian Air Force plans to buy 126 fighters to replace aging Russian-made MiG aircraft.
The French minister will also discuss Indo-French nuclear cooperation. France has submitted a tender for two 1,650-megawatts reactors for the Jaitapur nuclear site in the central Indian state of Maharashtra.
The French diplomat said they want to learn the views of the new government, led by Narendra Modi, on a nuclear liability law and how it could affect the French nuclear companies. The Indian Parliament framed a law in 2010 on nuclear liability that puts heavy financial responsibility on suppliers and contractors in case of an accident.