PARIS — French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian talked about the Rafale fighter jet but did not pitch the Mistral helicopter carrier in meetings in Malaysia with his counterpart, Hishammuddin Hussein, a defense official here said Tuesday.
Le Drian has not visited India on his way back to France, the official said. A visit to India had been planned, French website La Tribune had reported.
"The minister talked about the Rafale offer" in Malaysia, the official said. "The Mistral was not part of the discussion."
Le Drian flew into a Malaysian airbase Aug. 31 on Monday with a high-level parliamentary and industry team, dubbed the French export team, and went on to meet Prime Minister Najib Razak and Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
Le Drian and Hishammuddin took part in a meeting of the French-Malaysian Joint Defense Committee.
Malaysia is looking at the Dassault Rafale and affordability is a key issue.
"It's too soon to announce anything about it," Hishammuddin told a joint news conference with Le Drian in Kuala Lumpur, Reuters reported. "It's part and parcel of the industry and it's a proposal we look at, and I have been very transparent with the Malaysian public that it's a question of affordability.
"We talked about the Rafale, but not the Mistral," Hishammuddin said, Reuters reported.
The Boeing F/A-18, Saab Gripen and Eurofighter Typhoon are also under review in the Malaysian tender for 18 fighters.
A selection will likely be made in 2018 as there are financial difficulties, defense specialists said. Malaysia has been hit by lower oil prices and commodities, Reuters reported.
The Malaysian visit "went very well," the French defense official said.
France is looking to resell two Mistral warships, following a negotiated cancellation of their €1.2 billion sale to Russia.
India has said it would buy 36 Rafales off the shelf, prompting Dassault hopes that an order could be signed before the end of the year.