France upbeat on prospects for Indian fighter jet deal: minister

PARIS Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:27pm EST

A Dassault Rafale combat aircraft, which has been selected by the Indian Air Force for purchase, performs during the inauguration ceremony of the ''Aero India 2013'' at Yelahanka air force station on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A Dassault Rafale combat aircraft, which has been selected by the Indian Air Force for purchase, performs during the inauguration ceremony of the ''Aero India 2013'' at Yelahanka air force station on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 6, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

PARIS (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Sunday that talks with India to finalize the purchase of French Rafale war planes were looking up.

India chose Dassault Aviation's (AVMD.PA) Rafale for exclusive negotiations over a year ago to supply 126 aircraft in a deal potentially worth $10 billion.

However, both sides have played down prospects that the deal would be finalized when President Francois Hollande visits India on February 14-15.

"Things seem - I'm very cautious - to be looking very positive. That's at least what the Indians say," Fabius said in an interview on BFMTV.

He added that recent talks with his Indian counterpart and subsequent contacts had gone in the right direction.

Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony pledged on Wednesday not to let defense cuts disrupt efforts to finalize the deal.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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