Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds talks with France amid mounting Rafale deal `cover-up` allegations

Paris: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held a one-on-one meeting with her French counterpart Florence Parly to hold bilateral talks Thursday. The meeting comes amid increasing allegations of corruption at the BJP-led centre by Congress.

It is not yet known whether the Rafale deal was discussed by the two ministers. Official sources claimed that talks included co-production of military platforms and weapons by the two nations, besides expanding cooperation between their armed forces, particularly in the maritime domain.

Officials added that Sitharaman will visit a Rafale manufacturing facility near Paris on Friday to take stock of progress in their production of the 36 fighter jets.

Mounting attack on the Centre, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi questioned the sudden departure of Sitharaman to Paris.

“Why has suddenly Defence Minister rushed to France to Rafale's plant? What is the emergency?” he questioned, adding that it is a clear signal that a huge cover-up is going on and the media is being pressurised to not report on this.

Defence ministry released a statement saying, "Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue between India and France was decided during the summit meeting in March 2018 between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron."

Earlier in the day, an investigative report by French news website Mediapart, quoted from a new leaked company docume...

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