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Rafale deal closer to a decision; goes for final review

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NEW DELHI (PTI): The multi-billion Euro deal for 36 Rafales moved a step closer to a decision as the file on the fighter jets has been sent to the Prime Minister's Office for final review and clearance.

Defence sources said on Thursday that the final report submitted by a team negotiating the much-anticipated Rafale deal with France has been cleared by the Defence Ministry.

While officials remained tight lipped about the state of the deal, a high-ranking source when asked by PTI if it has been moved for clearance by the Cabinet Committee on Security, said, "I would not say no".

French sources have said they are expecting a positive development this month.

During his visit to France in April last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India would purchase 36 Rafale jets in a government-to-government contract.

Soon after the announcement, the defence ministry scrapped a separate process that was on to purchase 126 Rafale fighter planes, built by French defence giant Dassault Aviation.

The deal is expected to be worth around 7.89 billion Euros for the 36 fighter jets in fly away condition.

The weapon systems, as part of the deal, will also include the new age beyond visual range missile Meteor and Israeli helmet mounted display.

The price of the deal was brought down from nearly 10 billion Euros, as sought initially, due to various reasons, including tough negotiation by India, the discount offered by the French government and reworking of some of the criteria.

It is not clear if the price has been brought down further but India was seeking more.

The new deal comes with the clause of delivering 50 per cent offsets, creating business worth at least 3 billion Euros for smaller Indian companies and generating thousands of jobs in India through offsets.

The commercial negotiations on the pricing of the planes, equipment and other issues began in mid-January this year.

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