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India

France responds following Rahul Gandhi’s comments on Rafale deal

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New Delhi: France today said a security agreement it concluded with India in 2008 legally binds the two countries to protect the classified information relating to operational capabilities of defence equipment.

However, a statement issued by the French government after Congress President Rahul Gandhi raised the Indo-French Rafale jet deal during the no-confidence motion in Parliament, did not specifically mention whether the classified information included details of the pricing.

In his address during the debate on no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha, Gandhi said the French president had clearly conveyed to him that there was no problem in sharing details relating to the Rafale contrary to what the government has been saying and that the “Defence Minister has clearly spoken an untruth”.

“We have noted the statement of Mr Rahul Gandhi before the Indian Parliament. France and India concluded in 2008 a security agreement, which legally binds the two States to protect the classified information provided by the partner, that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defence equipment of India or France,” the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs said.

The official further said, “These provisions naturally apply to the IGA (Inter Governmental Agreement) concluded on 23 September 2016 on the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft and their weapons.”

“As the President of the French Republic indicated publicly in an interview given to India Today on March 9, 2018, in India and in France, when a deal is very sensitive, we can’t reveal all details,” the official said.

Alleging corruption in the deal, the Congress has been demanding details, including cost of equipment and weapons, but the government has refused to share them citing a secrecy pact with France.

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