Sale of "Admiral Gorshkov" to India still on, says official

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Moscow, Feb.25 : Sevmash spokesman Mikhail Starozhilov has refuted reports of some publications to the effect that the Admiral Gorshkov cruiser may be passed along to the Russian Navy because the contract on its supply to India has no prospects.

He said that India is not interested in severing its contract with Rosoboronexport (Russia's only state-run arms exporter), although it will have to pay an extra billion roubles for this cruiser.

"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," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Starozhilov, as saying.

Director of the Foreign Ministry's Second Department of Asia Alexander Maryasov said that the problems associated with the reconstruction of the cruiser are being discussed by high-ranking officials and experts.

"The 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," the diplomat said.

Rosoboronexport and the Indian Navy signed the contract for the cruiser in 2004. The project provides for the cruiser'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.

Currently, modernisation at Sevmash has slowed down. Its general-director Nikolai Kalistratov explained that "at one time the Russian experts made a mistake in assessing the costs of the work, and their mistake was worth billions of roubles."

ANI

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