France has asked to have bilateral talks with Brazil on the sidelines of next week's G20 summit in South Korea over Brasilia's long-running multi-billion-dollar tender to buy 36 new fighter jets, Brazilian officials told AFP Friday.
"The only one who has asked for a bilateral is the president of France (Nicolas Sarkozy) to talk about this issue and bilateral cooperation," one official in the Brazilian president's office said on condition of anonymity.
"The issue of the planes is central," the official said, adding the meeting would likely take place on the second day of the summit, Friday November 12.
Both Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his successor as of next year, president-elect Dilma Rousseff, will be attending the G20 summit.
Lula has been putting off for months his decision to announce the winner of the fighter jet tender, but said this week that now Rousseff had been elected to take over from him, an announcement would be made soon.
France's Rafale by Dassault, Sweden's Gripen NG by Saab, and the US-made F/A-18 Super Hornet by Boeing are all vying for the tender, which is worth an estimate four billion to seven billion dollars.
Brazil has insisted on full transfer of technology in the deal so it can build its own advanced military aircraft in the future.
Lula initially said a year ago that negotiations were underway to buy the sophisticated Rafale, but then stepped back from that position to see through the contest.
Brazil's air force has leaked to the media that it prefers the Gripen, which is cheaper and, because it has not yet reached prototype stage, promises more opportunities for Brazilian industry input.