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Asia-Pacific

Indian defence minister rules out Rafale deal before election

media Rafale jet fighter in the factory of French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation near Bordeaux, southwestern France, January 2014.

India's defence minister on Thursday ruled out any possibility of the current government agreeing to buy French-built Rafale fighter jets before this year's general election.  French firm Dassault aviation has been trying to seal the 12-billion-euro deal for two years.

"Because of shortage of money, don't expect this (financial) year any decision or agreement," said Defence Minister AK Anthony at a press conference in Delhi.

The announcement means the French company Dassault will face new uncertainty in its most promising export market.

India's financial year runs until the end of March but elections are expected by May and Anthony's Congress Party is struggling in the opinion polls.

India chose Dassault in January 2012 for exclusive negociations for 126 fighter jets, 12 billion euros, but successive deadlines have slipped by.

In December Dassault lost a contract in Brazil worth more than five billion euros. A contract which was under negociation for a decade. 

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