Russia acts to secure Indian defence market

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NEW DELHI, September 29, 2008 (AFP) – Russia on Monday offered its Cold War ally India the chance to jointly develop weapon systems in a bid to remain New Delhi’s main provider of weapons. With India increasingly looking elsewhere for its armament needs, visiting Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov presented a deal in which India would develop military hardware alongside Russia, rather than buying it.

“Particular attention in this new programme will be paid to scientific research and joint development and construction,” Serdyukov told reporters after talks with his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony.

“In this agreement, concrete steps will be undertaken to achieve transition relations from vendor and buyer to partnership,” Serdyukov said.

Russia accounts for 70 percent of Indian military equipment, but late deliveries and commercial disagreements have pushed New Delhi towards other suppliers, including the United States, France, Britain and Israel.

In 2005, India signed a 10-year defence pact with the United States in “a clear indication that New Delhi is planning to broaden the base of its defence procurements,” said analyst C. Uday Bhaskar.

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