India's defence minister faced new questions Thursday over a 2016 deal to buy Rafale fighter jets from France, which critics say unfairly profited a key backer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reports The Economic Times.
Speaking at a briefing in Paris, Nirmala Sitharaman reiterated the government's claim that it had no idea the jets' builder, Dassault Aviation, would team up with Reliance Group, run by Anil Ambani.
Several reports say Dassault was forced to choose Reliance by Modi, despite its having almost no experience in the aviation sector.
On the eve of Sitharaman's visit French investigative website Mediapart quoted the notes of a meeting between Dassault management and workers' representatives which described the choice of Reliance as "imperative and compulsory".
"We are very clear: With the government of France, we agreed to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft in flyaway condition," Sitharaman said.
"And in an intergovernmental agreement, there are no mentions of any individual firms," she said.
Since January 7, 2023 our colleague and friend Mortaza Behboudi has been imprisoned in Afghanistan, in the Taliban prisons.
We do not forget him and call for his release.