(Adds details, comments from French President)
KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 Malaysian Prime Minister
Najib Razak said on Tuesday that he discussed the possible
purchase of Dassault Aviation SA's Rafale fighter jets
with French President Francois Hollande but remained undecided.
"We're not ready yet to make a decision, but we take note of
its success in other countries...," Najib said at a joint news
conference with Hollande in Kuala Lumpur.
Rafale is seen as a frontrunner as Malaysia looks to buy up
to 18 jets in a deal potentially worth more than $2 billion,
sources have said.
Malaysia's plan is to replace the Royal Malaysian Air
Force's (RMAF) squadron of Russian MiG-29 combat planes, nearly
half of which are grounded.
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was reported in the
media as saying the race for new fighter jets has narrowed to
the Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon, built by BAE Systems
"I know you will be making a decision, and against that
background, we want to provide the necessary support," Hollande
said in his speech after comments from Najib.
"Our ministers are already working to that effect. All I
would like to say is that the Rafale jet is the best in its
category, and then we propose to discuss the prices, and the
specifications. I trust you will make the decision when the time
comes," he added.
Hollande held bilateral talks with Najib during his visit to
Malaysia, which is part of a three-nation tour of Southeast
Asia. Hollande was in Singapore earlier this week and is headed
to Indonesia later on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; writing by Praveen Menon; Editing
by Simon Cameron-Moore and Michael Perry)