French President Emmanuel Macron has stated that the most controversial Rafale deal was a "government-to-government" pact and he was not in power when the multi-billion-dollar agreement inked for 36 fighter jets between India and France.
In a press briefing on the sidelines of the 73rd edition of UN General Assembly session, Pres Macron was questioned if the Indian government had forced France or Dassault - the French aerospace leading company - that they had to select Reliance as the Indian collaborator for the Rafale deal.
India had penned an inter-governmental pact with France in September last year for procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets at a cost of around Rs 58,000 crore, nearly one-and-half years following Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed during a visit to Paris. The delivery of the jets is slated 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, who took charge as French President in May last year, stated reporters on Tuesday.
Macron stressed that he does not want to comment and he was not in charge at that time adding France has very clear rules.
He further said that this contract is part of a broader framework which is military and defense alliance between India and France.
In India ahead of LS polls 2019, PM Modi led ruling party BJP landed in a huge controversy over the Rafale deal after a report in the French media quoted former president Francois Hollande as asserting that the selection of the Reliance as a Indian company in the Rafale deal was done at the request of New Delhi.