Chief re­buts Rafale al­le­ga­tions:

Sub­con­ti­nent

Arab Times - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL -

In­dia’s de­fence min­is­ter faced new ques­tions Thurs­day over a 2016 deal to buy Rafale fighter jets from France, which crit­ics say un­fairly prof­ited a key backer of Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. Speak­ing at a brief­ing in Paris,

re­it­er­ated the gov­ern­ment’s claim that it had no idea the jets’ builder, Das­sault Avi­a­tion, would team up with Re­liance Group, run by the In­dian bil­lion­aire Anil Am­bani.

Sev­eral re­ports say Das­sault was forced to choose Re­liance by Modi, de­spite its hav­ing al­most no ex­pe­ri­ence in the avi­a­tion sec­tor.

On the eve of Sithara­man’s visit French in­ves­tiga­tive web­site Me­di­a­part quoted the notes of a meet­ing be­tween Das­sault man­age­ment and work­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives which de­scribed the choice of Re­liance as “im­per­a­tive and com­pul­sory”.

“We are very clear: With the gov­ern­ment of France, we agreed to pur­chase 36 Rafale air­craft in fly­away con­di­tion,” Sithara­man said. (AFP)

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