India ready to renegotiate Admiral Gorshkov deal

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New Delhi, Feb 1 (UNI) In a complete U-turn, India today hinted at renegotiating the Admiral Gorshkov deal with Russia in a move aimed at breaking the deadlock over the delivery of the aircraft carrier.

A high-level team, headed by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, is scheduled to leave for Russia on February 19 to verify the refit work on the Admiral Gorshkov warship and assess the ''actual'' cost.

The Defence Secretary confirmed to UNI that he is leaving for Russia with Director General (Acquisition) S K Sharma and other senior officials from the Ministry to hold talks with the officials there over the issues of price escalation and refit work of Admiral Gorshkov, to be rechristened as INS Vikramaditya.

Indicating that India was ready to revise the contract upwards in view of insistence by Moscow, defence sources said a large amount of money would have to be incurred on sea trials of the displacement carrier and the Russians may not have expected such a huge price escalation at the time of signing the deal with India.

''To some extent, their (Russians) demand is right. But, we have to verify the extent. If the variation is far too much, the Defence Ministry will have to seek the nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security before revising the contract,'' they added.

Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta had recently criticised Russia for demanding a huge increase in the quoted price of Admiral Gorshkov, asserting that India would go by the original agreement over the aircraft carrier.

''There is no question of re-negotiating the deal. There should be no revision in the contract,'' he had said.

The Defence Secretary expressed the hope of ''positive and fruitful'' discussions with the Russians. ''I want to go and see the present status of the ship. I am hopeful of positive discussions with the Russain authorities. One of our teams is already there,'' he added.

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