Talks with UAE ongoing to buy French Rafale jets

Sarkozy and Abu Dhabi crown prince discussed the deal
FRENCH JET: France is eager to secure a first export order for the aircraft as Brazil is expected to take a decision on January
By Reuters
Thu 16 Dec 2010 12:29 AM

Talks between the UAE and France over the sale of French Rafale fighter jets are still ongoing despite recent tensions, the French president's office said on Wednesday.

A senior French official told Reuters in early October the UAE had suspended talks to buy 60 Rafales, but Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan and President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the potential deal over lunch in Paris, an official at Sarkozy's office said.

He said: "The discussions have not been broken off."

The UAE froze talks over a June 26 article in Le Figaro, owned by conservative politician Serge Dassault, whose family controlled Dassault Aviation made the Rafale, according to the French official in October.

The newspaper said the UAE used Israeli technology to help secure its borders. Business with Israel remains a sensitive subject in the Gulf where most countries including the UAE have no relations with the Jewish state.

Word that the Rafale talks could be in trouble surfaced in September when specialist publication Defence News reported that Abu Dhabi had expressed interest in the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.

France is eager to secure a first export order for the aircraft, with Brazil expected to take a decision on the it once President-elect Dilma Rousseff takes office on January 1.

French Defence Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday he was hopeful an export deal for the Rafale would be sealed soon.

He said on France Inter radio: "I hope that France's chances will be confirmed in the coming weeks."

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