France upbeat on prospects for Rafale deal with India

PARIS Mon Feb 11, 2013 9:53am IST

A Dassault Rafale fighter jet takes off after a flying display during ceremony of the dissolution of 1/12 squadron at BA103 air base in Cambrai-Epinoy March 30, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

A Dassault Rafale fighter jet takes off after a flying display during ceremony of the dissolution of 1/12 squadron at BA103 air base in Cambrai-Epinoy March 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

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PARIS (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that talks with India to finalise the purchase of French Rafale war planes were looking up.

India chose Dassault Aviation's (AVMD.PA) Rafale for exclusive negotiations over a year ago to supply 126 aircraft in a deal potentially worth $10 billion.

However, both sides have played down prospects that the deal would be finalised when President Francois Hollande visits India on February 14-15.

"Things seem - I'm very cautious - to be looking very positive. That's at least what the Indians say," Fabius said in an interview on BFMTV.

He added that recent talks with his Indian counterpart and subsequent contacts had gone in the right direction.

Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony pledged on Wednesday not to let defence cuts disrupt efforts to finalise the deal.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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