Speaking on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said that the Rafale deal was a “government-to-government” discussion and he was not in power when the multi-billion-dollar agreement for 36 fighter jets was signed between India and France.
Addressing a press conference, Macron was asked if the Indian government had at any point told France or Dassault - the French aerospace major - that they had to accept Reliance as the Indian partner for the Rafale deal.
India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September last year for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one-and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September 2019.
“I will be very clear. It was a government-to-government discussion and I just want to refer to what Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi very clearly said a few days ago,” Macron said without elaborating.
“I don’t have any other comment. I was not in charge at that time and I know that we have very clear rules,” he said in his first comment on the issue.
Macron, who assumed the presidency in May last year, emphasised that this is a government-to-government discussion and “this contract is part of a broader framework which is military and defence” coalition between India and France.
“This one is very important to me because this is a strategic” coalition and not just an industrial relation. “That is my point. I just want to refer to what PM Modi said on this situation,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)