France hopes for UAE Rafale deal
Abu Dhabi, February 18, 2013
France's senior defence industry lobbyist said on Sunday he was confident the UAE would buy Rafale fighter jets by 2015-2016, as the defence minister in Paris said talks on a deal had resumed.
In January, a diplomatic source told Reuters that France was hopeful of selling 60 Rafales to the UAE.
"There's a very big chance the customer could consider buying the Rafale somewhere in 2015-2016 in order to have them delivered in 2017-2018," the head of France's Defense Industries Council (CIDEF) chief, Christian Mons-Catoni, said.
He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a defence industry event in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. He declined to comment on the size of the potential sale.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was quoted as telling newspaper Les Echos at the same event that negotiations on a sale had restarted.
The French business daily also quoted Eric Trappier, chief executive of Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation, as saying he had been given a "roadmap" for relaunching talks, which fell apart due to a disagreement over price.
Mons-Catoni said Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan had met Le Drian on the sidelines of the event.
Confirming the meeting, a UAE defence source said: "The talks at the highest levels between the UAE and France are going in the right direction."
President Francois Hollande visited Abu Dhabi in the second week of January and discussed bilateral relations and Iran's disputed nuclear programme with the Gulf country's leadership. - Reuters