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India to buy French-made Rafale fighter jets

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to buy 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets to modernize his country's fleet of warplanes. Speaking in Paris, Modi said that the "terms and conditions" of the sale are ongoing.

At a joint press conference with the French president on the first day of a state visit to France on Friday, Modi announced India's plans to purchase a number of fighter jets.

"France has always kept in mind our requirements, our critical requirements, and this is why I, once again, asked the president to provide us with 36 Rafales that are ready to fly," Modi said, speaking in Hindi through an interpreter.

"Our civil servants will discuss the terms and conditions in more detail and continue the negotiations," he added.

No details were given of the cost of the eventual deal with India.

Hollande said New Delhi wanted the deal finalized "in the shortest time possible," and he and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian would travel to New Delhi to finalize the deal soon.

Boost for Dassault Aviation

Talks between the two countries for the sale of the Rafales began three years ago.

The deal is a boost for French manufacturer Dassault Aviation after it sealed its

first export deal to Egypt in February

for 24 Rafales. The contract is expected to be worth about 4 billion euros ($4.2 billion).

The aircraft have been in service for the French Air Force since 2006 and are currently being used by the country in the international coalition strikes on Iraq against the "Islamic State" (IS).

India has become the world's largest importer of arms, with an economic boom enabling it to modernize its ageing military.

After two days in France, Modi will continue his European visit in Germany on Saturday.

jlw/cmk (AP, Reuters)

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