MOSCOW, March 11 (Reuters) Moscow links its decision to write off 4.74 billion dollars of Algeria's Soviet-era debt to Algiers' commitment to buy 7.5 billion dollars worth of Russian arms, Interfax news agency reported today.
The debt write-off and Algeria's agreement to buy combat planes, air-defence systems and other arms from Russia were announced yesterday during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to the North African country.
''The debt will be written off after contracts on buying the Russian arms are signed and carried out,'' Interfax quoted an unnamed expert, who took part in preparing Putin's visit, as saying.
Russia, one of the world's leading arms exporters with annual sales of more than 5 billion dollars is seeking to boost arms sales by widening its client base. Most of Russian arms exports currently go to China, India and southeast Asian states.
Chief of Russia's state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Sergei Chemezov, told Russian state television yesterday that the arms sales contracts had already been signed. But it remained unclear when the arms would be delivered.
Algeria will buy 40 MiG-29 fighters, 20 Sukhoi-30 fighters, 16 Yak-130 training planes as well as eight S-300 PMU2 Favorit rocket systems and about 40 tanks.
REUTERS KD RK2330