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India, Russia to ink defence deals during Putin's visit

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The INS Vikramaditya light aircraft carrier will operate the Russian made MiG-29K naval aircraft. A file photo

MOSCOW (PTI): Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will arrive in New Delhi on Thursday, on a two-day visit during which the two sides are likely to conclude the long- delayed agreement on aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and sign defence deals worth USD 4 billion.

Coming three months after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Russia in December 2009, Putin's India trip has a wider agenda like taking bilateral technological and energy cooperation to a new level.

Diplomatic sources said the two countries are keen on developing bilateral interaction in hi-technology as Russia has launched a major plan for its innovative modernisation.

Besides the deals worth USD 4 billion, including the final delivery agreement for Admiral Gorshkov, the two sides will also sign the final agreement for joint manufacture of fifth generation fighters, local media reported.

According to the delivery agreement for Admiral Gorshkov, an irritant in the bilateral ties, New Delhi would shell out an additional USD 2.35 billion for the upgradation of the carrier and training of Indian naval crews, it said.

Besides holding bilateral talks with Singh, Putin will also meet President Pratibha Patil during his visit.

On the eve of Putin's visit, sources said Singh will accord a red-carpet welcome to Putin like his Soviet-era predecessor Alexei Kosygin was received by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1968.

The Gorshkov carrier, which has been rechristened INS Vikramaditya is now scheduled to be delivered by 2013. India would pay another USD 1.2-billion for the new naval MiG-29K/KUB.

The new MiGs will be in addition to 16 aircraft already to be delivered under a contract signed in 2004 as part of the Gorshkov deal. The first of these maritime fighters have already been inducted by the Indian Navy.

The Vikramaditya is currently undergoing repairs and refit at the Sevmash shipyard in Russia.

Under the new agreement on Gorshkov refit, additional money would be made available to Sevmash shipyard to step up its upgradation.

The two countries are also close to signing commercial contracts for setting up multi-billion joint venture for the joint development and production of fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and multi-role transport aircraft (MTA).

India will also acquire 40 more Sukhoi Su-30MKI multi-role fighters.

Media reports said Putin's India visit is also aimed at boosting cooperation in nanotechnology and bio-technology for development of new pharma drugs, space and nuclear as well as conventional energy.

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