Rafale Deal Still Not Fi­nal, But in Ad­vanced Stage

DAC didn’t dis­cuss deal but cleared a pend­ing chap­ter of new ac­qui­si­tion pol­icy MANOHARPARRIKAR

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

New Delhi: Con­trary to re­ports that theRafale­figh­t­er­deal­with­France­has been sealed, de­fence min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar has said that ne­go­ti­a­tions are still on and the in­ten­tion it to close the con­tract at the ear­li­est, main­tain­ing an ear­lier stance on progress in the ac­qui­si­tion process.

Par­rikar, who re­turned from a tour to China, said that the deal would only be deemed clear till it was sent to the cabi­net for ap­proval — a pre­req­ui­site for de­fence con­tracts of such high value. Also, the high pow­ered de­fence ac­qui­si­tion com­mit­tee (DAC), which met on Thurs­day, did not dis­cuss the con­tract­but­clearedapend­ingchap­ter of the new ac­qui­si­tion pol­icy.

“I can tell you this much that the deal is in quite an ad­vanced stage and we in­tend to close it quite soon. Can­not still say that ne­go­ti­a­tions are to­tally cleared un­til we sign the deal or at least the deal is for­warded to Cabi­net for ap­proval,” Par­rikar said.

On queries about a BJP on­line cam­paign had de­scribed the deal as fi­nalised, the de­fence min­is­ter quipped that per­haps some me­dia sto­ries were taken too se­ri­ously by them.

As first re­ported by ET in Jan­uary, In­dia has been clos­ing in on fi­nal de­tails of the fighter deal at an ex­pected price of ₹ 60,000 crore.

While most of the tricky ar­eas around the mega con­tract — in­clud­ing off­sets — have been re­solved, is­sues on pric­ing re­main, in­clud­ing on the sup­port pack­age for the fight­ers that will pro­vide spares and ser­vice for the next 5-10 years.

The price is likely to be fi­nalised around the In­dian de­mand for ₹ 60,000 crore, with an off­sets pack­age that will boost­do­mes­ticin­dus­trybu­ta­com­pro­mise could be made by the In­dian side on­theweapon­spack­ageaswellas­sup­port con­tract to bring down ini­tial ac­qui­si­tion­cost.Thedeal­couldbe­sealed within a month, sources in­volved in the process said.

Mean­while, Par­rikar said that dur­ing his re­cent visit to China, it was clearly con­veyed that all ter­ror­ists should be treated equally harshly, re­fer­ring to the block­ing of In­dia’s at­tempts to des­ig­nate Ma­sood Azhar as ater­ror­ist­that­was­blocked­byBei­jing.

“I ex­pressed very clearly that there can­not be dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion in ter­ror­ists. All ter­ror­ists are the same and they should be dealt with the same prin­ci­ple, in­clud­ing the is­sue they had ob­structed at the UN,” he said.

Par­rikar also said that Bei­jing had raised the is­sue of In­dia agree­ing to sig­namil­i­tary­l­o­gis­tic­ssharinga­gree­ment with the US but said that it was not very ‘in­ten­sity’. He also said that In­dia and China are work­ing to­wards sign­ing a new de­fence co­op­er­a­tion pro­to­col later this year.

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