US ties will not deter Russian links: Antony

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Pokhran (Rajasthan), Dec 9: Defence Minister A K Antony reaffirmed India"s long standing military relationship with Russia in the wake of expanding ties with the United States. "Now we are improving fast our relation with the United States. At the same time nobody should feel that our fast improving relation with US is at the cost of our old friends," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a firepower demonstration by the Indian Air Force here.

“We will maintain friendship with old friends like Russia at the same time expand our close relation with US, France, UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the countries from which we can expect support," Antony told this in reply to a query on Russia's demand to double the price of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov that the Indian Navy has purchased.

In 2004, India and Russia signed a contact under which Russia was to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier after refurbishing it by 2008 at a cost of 1.5 billion dollars. However, Russia now wants to revise the cost to 2.7 billion dollars.

The sale of Gorshkov and a contract for the production in India of SU-30MKI fighter jets have been the biggest contracts in the past five years.

Antony also said the government will support any demand put forwarded by the defence wings.

“I want to assure the Air Force (IAF) whatever requirements they put forward to meet the emerging scenario, government will support it," he said.

Moscow and New Delhi are discussing 10 billion dollars worth of arms sales contracts as India needs Russian help to overcome its limitations in long-range defence operations.

India is the second biggest buyer of Russian weapons after China, accounting for nearly 40 percent of Moscow's overall arms exports, which hit a record 5.12 billion dollars in 2004.

ANI>

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