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France to go through with Mistral deal with Russia despite US indignation

May 30, 2014, 16:19 UTC+3 PARIS
France will go ahead with the sale of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia's navy despite US pressure to halt the deal
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© ITAR-TASS/Vadim Zhernov

PARIS, May 30. /ITAR-TASS/. France will go ahead with the sale of two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia's navy despite US pressure to halt the deal, the French Defence Ministry told ITAR-TASS on Friday.

Contract liabilities will be honoured and finalised in October-November, the ministry's press service said, confirming comment by President Francois Hollande visiting Berlin earlier this month.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has also announced that the deal with go through, noting on a visit to Washington that Russia “had already paid more than half” of the contract cost and that “according to law, there is no possibility to say 'no' to the deal."

He added, however, that France would take “a final decision” on this issue in October. “Let’s wait and see what the situation and legal regime will be like,” Fabius noted, referring to European Union sanctions on Russia over events in Ukraine.

 

US pressure on France

Meanwhile, the United States maintains its pressure on France. A group of US Democratic congressmen have written to NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen proposing that Paris be persuaded to sever the deal, British news agency Reuters reported on Thursday.

French observers recall that the US began voicing indignation long ago over French military hardware destined for buyers not in NATO membership. Crisis in Ukraine has sharpened the rhetoric.

“Back in 2009, a group of US senators sent a letter of protest to the French ambassador in Washington expressing discontent that Paris supports Russia’s increasingly more belligerent policy,” French sources say, adding that “Washington had been conducting a campaign in diplomatic and economic ways for a long time, actively against any sale of French weapons in the world.

"The Mistral sale has also caused strong US opposition for a very long time. That would be strange to deny now," the sources add.

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