India, France signed secrecy pact this year, says Minister

imgAn agreement on protecting classified data was signed by India and France on March 10, 2018, replacing an earlier agreement signed in 2008, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said on Wednesday.

“An agreement between India and France regarding the Exchange and Reciprocal Protection of Classified or Protected Information was signed on March 10, 2018, during the visit of President of France to India,” Bhamre said in the Lok Sabha.

“This agreement defines the common security regulations applicable to any exchange of classified and protected information between the two countries.”

Bhamre was responding to a question by Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MP Muttamsetti Srinivasa Rao, who sought to know if India and France had signed any new confidentiality agreement replacing the 2008 pact.

The Minister’s statement becomes significant in the backdrop of the opposition demanding details of the Rafale fighter jets deal from France, while the government has been sticking to its stand that it cannot reveal the price of the fighter jets in the interest of national security and because of a confidentiality agreement signed by the two countries in 2008 under the UPA government.

The Congress alleges that there are irregularities in the deal for buying 36 Rafale fighter jets off-the-shelf from France.

It also claims that the fighter jets are being bought from France at a price higher than what was negotiated in the previous multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal under which 126 fighter jets were to be bought.

The government has, however, been maintaining that the price India is getting under the Inter-Government Agreement is lesser than the MMRCA deal.