Speaking to reporters in Paris on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande ruled out any announcement on the Rafale deal before the arrival of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Paris on Thursday.
“There will be no announcement on the Rafale sales before the visit of Prime Minister Modi in France and I do not want the Indian Premier’s visit to be put in the context of a contract,” Mr. Hollande said adding that “we are working on it.”
The issue is expected to figure prominently during discussions between the two leaders on Friday but Francois Richter, French ambassador in India, declined to comment on specifics and skipped questions on the issue.Differences over pricing
India and France have been negotiating the $20 billion Rafale fighter aircraft since 2012 with serious differences over pricing and delivery timelines by the aircraft manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Indian Ocean, important to both the countries, will also be discussed during the talks.
“We attach great importance to anything related to the Indian Ocean,” Mr. Richter said adding that India plays an important role in the region’s stability.
The two countries will increase information sharing to face the challenges bilaterally and in association with the countries bordering the region, Embassy officials said.
India is setting up a coastal radar chain in the region and integrating other countries in the region into its monitoring system. This got a boost during Mr. Modi’s recent visit to Indian Ocean littorals.