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Rafale fighter jets

Rafale deal: French govt says not involved in choice of Indian partners

French companies have the full freedom to select Indian firms for the deal, says France

New Delhi: The French government on Saturday said it was in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners for the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal, after former French president Francois Hollande’s reported comments that New Delhi proposed Reliance Defence as the Indian partner for the contract.

While the French government said French companies had the full freedom to select Indian firms for the deal, Dassault Aviation, the makers of Rafale, said the decision to enter into a partnership with Reliance Defence Ltd was its own.

Both the French government and Dassault issued separate statements.

“The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being, or will be selected by French companies," the French government said in its statement.

“In accordance with India’s acquisition procedure, French companies have the full freedom to choose the Indian partner companies that they consider to be the most relevant, then present for the Indian government’s approval the offsets projects that they wish to execute in India with these local partners so as to fulfil their obligations in this regard," the statement added.

The report in Mediapart quoted Hollande as saying, “It was the Indian government that proposed this service group, and Dassault which negotiated with Ambani. We had no choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us."

Reacting to Hollande’s remarks, a defence ministry spokesman said: “It is reiterated that neither the government nor the French government had any say in the commercial decision."

In its statement, Dassault Aviation said it had decided to make a partnership with the Reliance Defence in accordance with the policy of ‘Make in India’. “This offsets contract is delivered in compliance with the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2016 regulations. In this framework, and in accordance with the policy of Make in India, Dassault Aviation has decided to make a partnership with India’s Reliance Group. This is Dassault Aviation’s choice."

Under India’s offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30% of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed

Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.

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