India’s improving ties with US will not be at the cost of old friend Russia: Antony

November 14th, 2007 - 2:24 am ICT by admin  
Moscow, Oct.17 (ANI): Visiting Indian Defence Minister A K Antony has ruled out ignoring old friend and ally Russia at the cost of deepening military and strategic relations with the US.

” When we are improving our relations with US and other countries, it does not mean at the cost of our old friendship. Friendship with Russia will continue, and it will further increase and defence relations with Russia will further develop”,said Antony ahead of the Seventh India-Russia Inter- Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation talks here today.

Antony also expressed optimism that his visit to Russia would be a pathbreaking one, and predicted a major defence deal between the two countries could be in the offing.

Talking to reporters after laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier, Antony said talks to jointly develop and produce a fifth generation fighter aircraft for the Indian and Russian Air Forces is going on, and a major breakthrouh could be expected.

“Discussions are progressing well. I am sure there will be a major breakthrough on certain issues and we have already arrived on some agreement on issues.This visit will furthur enhance our relations. We will find areas of working together,” Antony said.

Antony is on a four day visit to Russia and talks relating to the development of a fith generation aircraft are likely to dominate proceedings.

The seventh meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) is also expected to focus on other issues, including the further ramping up of bilateral military ties, additional purchases of Russian defence hardware and cost escalation in deals that have already been inked, a senior official said.

Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov will co-chair the IRIGC-MTC meeting.

Antony, heading a high-level official delegation that includes Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, senior DRDO officials and top brass of armed forces.

India is the biggest market for Russian weaponry worldwide, with armament sales touching almost 10 billion dollars a year.

Moscow is keen on retaining the Indian market in the face of growing competition from the U.S., French and Israeli armaments majors. (ANI)

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