RPT-French minister says US tanker affair not closed

Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:16am EST

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PARIS, March 10 (Reuters) - A top French minister on Wednesday attacked the United States' handling of an aerial tanker contract, which has seen Europe's EADS EAD.PA drop out of the race, and said the matter was not over yet.

"This has gone beyond acceptable," said France's European Affairs Minister Pierre Lellouche, who was speaking after a ministerial meeting.

He added that as far as he was concerned, the multibillion-dollar matter was not closed and would lead to further developments.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it may speed up awarding the contract after Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N) and EADS EAD.PA pulled out, leaving Boeing Co (BA.N) as the sole bidder. [ID:nN09240185]

Northrop and EADS had won an initial bid for the contract but later lost after U.S government auditors upheld a Boeing protest.

(Reporting by Yann Le Guernigou and Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by Hans Peters)

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