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Poland to invite tenders for helicopter deal to 'console' Airbus

media Airbus's Caracal helicopter AFP

Poland is to launch a new invitation to tender for 50-70 military helicopters to "console" Airbus, a government spokesman announced on Wednesday. President François Hollande cancelled a visit to Warsaw planned for Thursday after the Polish government pulled out of negotiations with the French-based aircraft-builder.

"To console Airbus, I can just say that there will be a new invitation to tender and there will be the possibility to take part," spokesman Rafal Bochenek told Polish state radio.

Airbus bosses on Tuesday slammed Poland's Eurosceptic government for pulling out of negotiations, which were begun by the previous administration, and placing an order with rival Lockheed Martin, a move that prompted Hollande and Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to scrap plans to visit Poland.

The US firm will deliver two Blackhawks this year and eight in 2017, according to Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz, who said 50-70 helicopters would be needed eventually.

Bochenek repeated ministers' claims that the end of the negotiations was Airbus's responsibility and cast doubts on the company's claim that it had promised to create 6,000 jobs, some of them not relating to manufacturing the helicopters, in Poland.

"It's a shame that the letters with this sort of argument were written after the end of negotiations because this sort of information is not in any of the official documents presented by Airbus," he commented.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault spoke by phone to his Polish counterpart, Witold Waszczykowski, on Tuesday night, the Polish ministry said without giving details of what was discussed.

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