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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 14:52 GMT
India hails Russian defence deal
General Igor Sergeyev and George Fernandes
The ministers plan closer military co-operation
India has hailed a new defence deal with Russia aimed at expanding military co-operation.

The Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandes and Russian officials signed the agreement on Friday, which includes the joint development of a next-generation fighter jet.
India is the world's most populous democracy, and we have been linked by decades of close friendship

Sergei Ivanov - Russian defence minister

"It's a landmark document," said Mr Fernandes: "We believe that it will contribute to strengthening our military-to-military relationship."

Meanwhile, Pakistan has just wound up two days of talks with Russian officials in Moscow on strategic issues

Cooperation

Mr Fernandes said the two nations were developing ties in all spheres, including substantial Indian investments in the Sakhalin oil fields in the far east of Russia.

He said the agreement on military co-operation covered the purchase of new Russian weapons, plans to build a new fighter aircraft and the joint
Vladimir Putin and Boris Yeltsin
Putin has presided over a renewal of ties with India
production of the Brahmos cruise missile.

The Brahmos, based on the Russian Yahont anti-ship missile, has a range of 300 kilometres (185 miles) and flies at twice the speed of sound.

It is expected to be deployed in 2004, becoming the first supersonic missile in India's arsenal.

However, the Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov dismissed concerns that military co-operation between Moscow and Delhi could spark instability.

Successful

He said: "I don't see any danger to the balance of forces. India is the world's most populous democracy, and we have been linked by decades of close friendship.

Meanwhile, a Pakistani embassy spokesman in Moscow said his country's talks with Russian officials had been completely successful.

He said the delegation, headed by the Pakistani Deputy Foreign Minister, Tariq Osman Haider, had included discussions on counter-terrorism and "strategic stability".

The Pakistani foreign ministry also announced that President Pervez Musharraf would make his first-ever visit to Moscow on 4 February, describing the development as "a new stage" in relations with Russia.

See also:

14 Jan 03 | South Asia
02 Dec 02 | South Asia
13 Feb 01 | South Asia
04 Dec 02 | South Asia
14 Jan 03 | Country profiles
28 Dec 02 | Country profiles
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