France arms sale to Pakistan held up


France’s plan to sell 1.2 billion euro worth of military equipment for Pakistan’s JF-17 combat aircraft has been held up, a source at President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office says.

The French daily Le Monde reported earlier that France decided to suspend the sale of electronics and missiles — the first section of a six billion euro contract — under pressure from India and uncertainty over Pakistan’s finances. “It’s a deal that’s not ready from the Pakistani side,” the source said, without giving further details. “For now, the state of the dossier doesn’t allow us to carry on with it.”

A consortium made up of French company ATE and arms group Thales (which both have South African operations) as well as missile manufacturer MBDA was supposed to produce the equipment, Le Monde said. Thales declined to comment. France was also worried over insufficient protection of its technology, with Pakistan pushing to assemble the equipment on its soil, the paper said. In February, MBDA said it planned to upgrade India’s Mirage 2000 fighters and was looking to expand in India.

Le Monde said talks over that upgrade also played a role in the decision.