Sri Lanka talks with Russia, India on arms buys

Sri Dharanee Performance Arts Theatre

Dec 16, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka will meet with Indian and Russian delegations this week on possible arms purchases including air defence weaponry as clashes with Tamil Tiger rebels escalate, press reports here said Sunday. Defence officials from India and Russia will hold separate talks with Sri Lankan authorities on improving systems used against the low-flying Czech-built Zlin Z-143 operated by Tiger guerrillas, the reports said.

India which has provided a radar system to Sri Lanka’s military was expected to hold talks on upgrading the equipment and improving the air defence capability of government forces, the Sunday Times here said.

The military is seeking to upgrade its fleet of Mi-35 helicopter gunships and talks with the Russian delegation from Monday will focus on buying a “major consignment” of Russian-made weapons, the Lakbimanews weekly said.

There was no immediate comment from the defence ministry or the Russia and Indian diplomatic missions in Colombo.

Sri Lanka has been trying to upgrade its weapons and air defences since Tamil Tiger rebels earlier this year began flying light aircraft smuggled into the country in pieces to be later re-assembled.

Fighting between troops and Tamil Tige