The French government on Friday took note of Congress president Rahul Gandhi's reference to the Rafale deal during his speech in the Lok Sabha. Rahul launched a blistering attack on the Narendra Modi government and said, "I have no hesitation in saying that... under pressure from the prime minister, Nirmala Sitharaman spoke untruth to the people."
Gandhi said he had asked the French president about the Indian government's claim that it cannot share the price details due to a secrecy pact between India and France. The French leader told him that there was no such pact, he claimed.
France responded to Rahul's speech and said in an official statement, "We have noted the statement of 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."
"These provisions naturally apply to the IGA 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 9 March, 2018, 'In India and in France, when a deal is very sensitive, we can't reveal all details.'"
Statement by the Spokesperson of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs on the Security agreement, between France and India. https://t.co/EUMfhK3aML
— Alexandre Ziegler (@FranceinIndia) July 20, 2018
Defence minister Sitharaman termed as "absolutely wrong" Rahul's claim that there was no confidentiality clause in the Rafale aircraft deal with France and said the initial agreement was signed when the UPA was in power in 2008.
The minister said the India-France agreement to buy the fighter jets was signed in 2008 by the then defence minister AK Antony and it had the confidentiality clause.
"It was an agreement of secrecy. Protection of classified information. I am not privy to what the French president told Rahul. But, I am referring to two particular interviews that the French president had given to Indian TV channels,"
"In the interviews, the French president had said that commercial details of the Rafale deal cannot be revealed," she said.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jul 20, 2018 19:51 PM