Fernandes in Russia to buy military spares
MOSCOW: Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes on Wednesday began week-long talks with officials in Russia, India’s main arms supplier, the Indian embassy in Moscow said.
Fernandes and Russian Industry Minister Ilya Klebanov opened a joint commission on technical military cooperation, the embassy said, adding that the working group was set to meet for three days. Klebanov was also to meet Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov Wednesday, and with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov later in the week for talks focusing on military cooperation, it said. Before leaving India on Tuesday, Fernandes said he would talk to Russian officials about problems the Indian military has had in obtaining spare parts.
Fernandes was set to discuss buying spare parts for the Russian-made MiG fighter jet, ITAR-TASS news agency reported. Navy Chief Admiral Madhavendra Singh admitted last month that the 137-ship Indian navy has been facing difficulties in trying to procure spares from Russia, which has historically been India’s chief military supplier.
The embassy failed to comment on reports that the talks in Moscow would touch upon the sale to India of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, decommissioned by the Soviet navy in the 1980s and later refurbished. ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Indian sources as saying that the sale was almost final, and the United News of India agency quoted Fernandes as saying earlier this week that technical evaluations had been completed but pricing needed to be sorted out. —AFP