India's ties with US not to affect friendship with Russia

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MOSCOW, Oct 17 (UNI) India's growing friendship with the US and other western countries will not be at the cost of old and strong ties with Moscow, Defence Minister A K Antony said here today.

Mr Antony, on a four-day visit to Russia, was talking to newspersons at the Alexandrovsky garden after paying tributes at a memorial for World War II martyrs.

"Russia is a special and important friend for us. This visit is to further advance our 60-year-old relations," he declared.

India was trying to improving its ties with the US and other countries in the changing economic scenario. But this did not mean breaking off of ties with old friends, he added.

In this context, he said the coming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November assumes significance. Asked about the issue of increase in prices of Sukhoi aircraft and other defence equipment, he said informal discussions were on at various levels.

In the next two days, India-Russia joint committee will deliberate on technical cooperation in defence matters in an informal atmosphere. Talks are also going on for development of fifth generation weapons which may take a final shape very soon.

Mr Antony will meet his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov tomorrow.

UNI

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