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No pressure to choose Reliance, says Dassault

Clarification comes amidclaims of trade-off

Dassault Aviation said on Thursday that it chose Reliance Defence “freely” on the Rafale aircraft deal. The French military major issued a press statement a day after reports in the French media claimed that the company was made to choose Reliance Defence in a “trade-off” to get the Rafale fighter jet deal from India.

“Dassault Aviation has freely chosen to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This joint venture, Dassault Reliance Aerospace Ltd (DRAL), was created on February 10, 2017. Other partnerships have been signed with other companies such as BTSL, DEFSYS, Kinetic, Mahindra, Maini, SAMTEL,… Other negotiations are ongoing with a hundred-odd other potential partners,” Dassault Aviation said.

French investigative journal Mediapart reported on October 10 that Dassault Aviation found it mandatory to have Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as an offset partner to clinch the Rafale deal. The journal said that it was a “trade off.” It cited documents from Dassault Aviation that showed that it had no option but to take Reliance as the offset partner.

The clarification comes in the backdrop of a visit to France by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman which began on Thursday. The Minister is expected to assess the progress in the supply of 36 Rafale jets by Dassault to the IAF under a Rs. 58,000 crore deal.

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