India Rafale jet deal needs more negotiations

KONFRONTASI-France says its deal with India to sell 126 Rafale combat jets, worth 15 billion US dollars, to the South Asian country will require several months more negotiations between the two sides.

"We are in a positive process; I hope it will come to a successful conclusion. It has progressed well," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday.

Le Drian, however, noted that the deal will not be signed before the end of the year.

"It's not three weeks. ... It's several months, we'll see. But I'm optimistic," he stated.

His remarks came after the Indian Defense Ministry said this week that it had agreed with the French Defense Ministry to accelerate the talks and resolve the problems.

Negotiations between the parties, that have been ongoing on since January 2012, have recently slowed following disagreements over the cost and work-sharing.

Under the deal, the first 18 Rafale jets will be built by aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation in France and the remaining 108 will be assembled in India by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics.

Rafale is a twin-engine delta-wing fighter aircraft with semi-stealth capabilities.[mr/ptv]