Admiral Gorshkov deal on course : Russian shipyard

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Moscow, Feb 23 (UNI) Russian shipyard Sevmash has denied media reports claiming that aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov will be passed along to the Russian Navy, if the deal to transfer the vessel to India was ''scrapped''.

Sevmash is refitting the aircraft carrier for use by the Indian Navy.

''The two sides are currently actively involved in top-level negotiations. The Indian commander-in-chief will come to Severodvinsk to settle differences in March. In Russia, this question is supervised by the Ministry of Defence. These facts prove that neither side wants to annul the contract,'' Mikhail Starozhilov, spokesman for Sevamash, was quoted by Ria Novosti as saying.

He claimed India would not sever the contract with Rosoboronexport-- Russia's only state-run arms exporter-- although it will have to pay an 700 million dollars for a refit of the aircraft carrier.

Director of the Foreign Ministry's Second Department of Asia Alexander Maryasov said the issues associated with the reconstruction of the vessel were being discussed by high-ranking officials and experts.

''The two sides are discussing a number of technical, legal and financial issues. In the near future, they will establish a working group to consider proposals on resolving this problem with a concerted effort. This is a solvable problem,'' he said.

Rosoboronexport and the Indian Navy signed the contract for the sale of the aircraft carrier in 2004. The project provides for the vessel's repairs and modernisation; it will be equipped with the latest arms systems and ship-based air group MiG-29 K (Fulcrum) fighters and anti-submarine early-warning Ka-27 and Ka-31 (Helix) helicopters.

UNI XC YA DS1407

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