International

French President says jet deal with India will ‘take time’

NEW DELHI: France’s President Francois Hollande said that the conclusion of a deal for New Delhi to buy 36 French fighter jets would “take time” ahead of his arrival in India Sunday for a three-day visit.

“Agreeing on the technicalities of this arrangement obviously takes time, but we are on the right track,” Hollande said in an interview with the Press Trust of India news agency.

The invitation for Hollande to be the chief guest at Tuesday’s Republic Day celebrations had raised hopes that the long drawn-out deal to buy the three dozen Rafale jets would finally be nailed down.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Paris last year that New Delhi had agreed to buy the jets as India looks to modernise its Soviet-era military, in part to keep up with neighbouring rivals Pakistan and China.

In his interview, Hollande said that “the Rafale is a major project for India and France” that would “pave the way for an unprecedented industrial and technological cooperation” for the next four decades.

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