French President: I was not in charge at that time and I know that we have very clear rules

A "Yellow dog" flight deck director gives the go signal to the pilot of a Rafale fighter jet aboard France's Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier in the Gulf, January 29, 2016. Picture taken January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer - LR2EC1U0VJGQK

Image Source: French President Emmanuel Macron | Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

PTI: French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the Rafale deal was a “government-to-government” discussion and he was not in power when the multi-billion dollar agreement for 36 fighter jets was signed between India and France.

Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Macron was asked if the Indian government had at any point told France or Dassault — the French aerospace major — that they had to accept Reliance as the Indian partner for the Rafale deal.

India had inked an inter-governmental agreement with France in September last year for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around ₹58,000 crore, nearly one- and-half years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the proposal during a visit to Paris. The delivery of the jets is scheduled to begin from September, 2019.

“I will be very clear. It was a government-to-government discussion and I just want to refer to what Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi very clearly said a few days ago,” Macron told reporters of PTI on Tuesday without elaborating.

“I don’t have any other comment. I was not in charge at that time and I know that we have very clear rules,” he said in his first comment on the issue.

The French president, who assumed office in May 2017, emphasised that the deal was “part of a broader framework which is military and defence” coalition between the two countries, NDTV reported. “This one is very important to me because this is a strategic” coalition and not just an industrial relation, he added.