France on Rahul attack: Both nations legally bound to protect Rafale info

NEW DELHI: Taking a note of Rahul Gandhi‘s address in Parliament, France today said that a 2008 security agreement legally binds both India and France to “protect the classified information provided by the partner”.

In a statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France said that breaching the agreement could impact security and operational capabilities of the defence equipment of India or France.


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

It also cited an interview of French President Emmanuel Macron’s given to a television news channel and said that the deal is “very sensitive”. “We can’t reveal all the details,” the statement read.

However, Rahul dismissed French statement, saying that “let them deny it if they (France) want.”

“He (French President) said that before me. I was there, Anand Sharma and Dr Manmohan Singh were also there,” Rahul was quoted as saying by ANI.

Earlier today, the Congress chief, while addressing the Lok Sabha, said he truth is that Modi is not a “chowkidar” but a “bhagidaar” in the wrongdoings.

“I personally met the French president and asked him if there is such a pact between the French and Indian governments. The French president told me that there is no such pact between the French and Indian governments,” Gandhi said.

“This is the truth, and he told me that I have no objection to it (details of Rafale deal) being made public, you can tell it to entire India,” he said.

The Congress president alleged that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was lying to the country under pressure from the prime minister.

“Who is being helped, why the help is being given, Niramala ji, the prime minister should tell the country.”

Vehemently rejecting the charges, Sitharaman said the secrecy agreement with France was signed in 2008 and the Rafale deal was covered under it.

“As per article 10 of the IGA between India and France, on purchase of Rafale aircraft, protection of classified information and materials exchanged under IGA shall be governed by provisions of security agreement signed on January 25, 2008,” she said.

Sitharaman said the pact was inked during the UPA regime when A K Antony was the defence minister. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also rejected the charges.

India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 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.

The Congress had raised several questions about the deal including the rates, and accused the government of compromising national interest and security while causing a loss to the public exchequer.

The Congress has alleged that the deal negotiated under its rule was much cheaper than the contract signed by the Modi government.

The government has been refusing to divulge details of the deal citing confidentiality provisions of an Indo-French pact of 2008.

The Congress also claimed that Qatar had purchased 12 Rafale fighter jets in November 2017 for USD 108.33 million per aircraft (Rs 694.80 crore), noting that the per aircraft rate at which the Gulf nation is buying the jet is much lower than the rate at which India will procure them.

(With inputs from PTI)

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