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French Defence Minister Jean Yves Le Drian is likely to visit India next week to conclude the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) between India and France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets, bringing to an end the 17-month-long negotiations.

Mr. Drian is expected to be in Delhi on September 23, official sources said on Thursday.
The sources earlier said that the draft of the IGA was being finalised after which it would go to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for formal clearance.

Tough Negotiations

India and France had held several rounds of tough negotiations after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the decision for direct purchase of as many as 36 Rafale jets in fly-away condition in April 2014.

The final deal is expected to cost about Euro 7.87 billion, translating to over Rs. 55,000 crore depending on the currency fixation in the contract. The aircraft will be slightly customized as per the requirements of the Indian Air Force and deliveries will begin in 2019 with sovereign guarantee by the French government.

Rafale was originally selected under the Medium Multi-Role combat Aircraft (MMRCA) contest for 126 aircraft but the tender was subsequently withdrawn with no resolution in sight.

Source>> The Hindu

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