France ready to transfer warship technology to Russia: PM
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on a visit to Moscow on Thursday that France was ready to transfer military technology if it won a tender to supply Russia with Mistral warships.
"There is no question about the technology transfer, no problem regarding technology transfers," Fillon said at a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Russia had been in exclusive talks with France to buy two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships but in August the defence ministry announced an international tender.
Putin stressed that the price and the possibility of technology transfer to allow Russia to subsequently learn to build its own warships of the same class, would be key criteria in Russia's choice.
"The price is important. Russia is also interested in technology transfers. This is important for our ship building," Putin said.
Fillon complained jokingly that Putin was a hard bargainer in price negotiations.
"We are discussing the price and Vladimir Putin is not the easiest person to talk to about this question," he said.
Over several months, talks with Moscow have stalled on the question of technology transfer.
France has been negotiating with Russia since 2009 on a possible deal to sell Moscow the Mistral, a powerful warship capable of carrying helicopters and tanks, costing around 500 million euros.
If agreed, the deal would be the first sale to Russia of such technology by a NATO country and France's NATO allies have expressed concern about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry.
© 2010 AFP