France sees progress in Rafale jet talks with UAE
Fabius says negotiations to sell Rafale fighter jets to United Arab Emirates are ‘going in right direction.’
Al-Arab Online  [Published On: 16/04/2015]
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PARIS - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Thursday negotiations to sell its increasingly popular Rafale fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates were "going in the right direction."

His comment came just days after he cryptically responded "all things come in threes" when asked about talks with the UAE on the plane, which has already been snapped up by Egypt and India this year in multi-billion-euro deals.

"There are discussions that are taking place with the Emirates and they are going in the right direction," Fabius told the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris.

A deal with the Gulf country would be yet another coup for Rafale manufacturer Dassault, which struggled for years to export its fighter jet.

But earlier this year, Egypt bought 24 Rafales in a 5.2-billion-euro ($5.6-billion) deal negotiated in just three months, prompting hopes in Paris that the agreement would act as a catalyst to unblock hoped-for sales to other countries.

Sure enough, India followed suit and last week announced the order of 36 Rafale jets during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France.

The two sides had already been engaged in years of tortuous, exclusive negotiations for the sale of 126 Rafales, but these had been bogged down over cost and New Delhi's insistence on assembling a portion of the high-tech planes in India.

So India, whose airforce is in dire need of new jets to update its ageing fleet, made a quick order for 36 planes while negotiations continue on finalising the initial 126-jet agreement.

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