Brazil strengthening its military position

Brazil and France in jets talks

French President Sarkozy and Brazil's President Lula at Independence Day celebrations in Brasilia on 7/09/09

The statement came after talks between the two presidents in Brasilia

(BBC) Brazil has entered into negotiations with France to buy 36 fighter jets, the two countries have announced.

In exchange for the $4bn tender, France would buy about a dozen military cargo planes, they said in a joint statement.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in Brazil to attend Independence Day celebrations, but a formal decision on the deal is not expected this week.

France is competing with the United States and Sweden to supply Brazil’s air force with 36 new modern warplanes.

Gary Duffy
Gary Duffy, BBC News, Sao Paulo

President Sarkozy seems to have established strong personal relations with President Lula, but also clearly understood the central Brazilian requirement to allow this process to move forward: the Brazilian government was adamant that the transfer of technology was decisive.

France also shrewdly helped its cause on other fronts, such as backing a long-standing Brazilian effort to secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

The move towards buying the French fighters is a further sign of the deepening defence contacts between the two countries. As a developing nation, Brazil offers huge opportunities to other nations looking for lucrative contacts, and France has skilfully achieved a key position here.

Meanwhile Brazil, which has been adopting an increasingly prominent diplomatic role in the world, is now strengthening its military position as well.

Ahead of Mr Sarkozy’s visit, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signalled that France’s Rafale jet, built by Dassault, was favourite.

The Rafale had an “exceptional comparative advantage” because of France’s guarantee to share all military technology with Brazil as part of the deal, he told the AFP news agency.

Talks with France over the deal were at a “very advanced stage”, he told other media outlets.

If it goes ahead, this will be the first time France has sold the Rafale overseas.

Brazilian officials are expected to announce the winner of the bid in October, AFP reports.

Presidents Sarkozy and Lula were due on Monday to sign an already-agreed $10bn (£6bn; 7bn euros) deal for Brazil to buy five French submarines and 50 military transport helicopters.

In an interview with Brazil’s O Globo newspaper on Sunday, Mr Sarkozy said: “The relationship between Brazil and France is not one of supplier and client, but of partners.

“We want to act together because we share the same values and a same vision on the big international goals.”


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