Defence Minister AK Antony to visit Russia

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AK Antony
Moscow, Sep 30: Defence Minister A K Antony will pay a crucial two-day visit to Russia next week to co-chair a meeting of bilateral inter-governmental commission on military cooperation which is expected to take stock of a number of big ticket weapon sales to India.

During Antony's October 4-5 visit, he is also expected to call on Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who has announced his plans to return to the Kremlin after next March's presidential polls, sources in the Russian Defence Ministry said.

Antony will co-chair the Indo-Russian Inter-governmental Commission (IRIGC-MTC) meeting with his counterpart Anatoly Serdyuko.

IRIGC-MTC is the nodal body for steering the defence cooperation under the long-term military-technical interaction programme, the only such programme New Delhi and Moscow have with any foreign country.

After resolving the irritants like the cost escalation and delay in the delivery of the refurbished Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier to be inducted as INS Vikramaditya next year, the two sides are to focus now on joint development and production projects like fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) for the military.

After the success of BrahMos cruise missile joint venture, the two sides are now poised to transform their military cooperation from ''buyer-seller'' relationship to joint partners, as India continues to remain ''numero uno'' client of the Russian defence industry, in spite of opening of the Indian arms market to the US and other Western powers.

PTI

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