France signs deal to sell four warships to Russia: official

25th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

France has signed a deal to sell four Mistral warships to Russia, including two to be built in Russia, President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said Tuesday.

"The governments of the two countries agree to give their full support to the construction of two (warships) in France and two in Russia," said a joint French-Russian released by the Elysee.

The statement came as Sarkozy was visiting the naval shipyards in the western port of Saint-Nazaire where the warships will be built.

France has been negotiating with Russia since 2009 on the deal to sell Moscow the Mistral, a powerful warship capable of carrying helicopters and tanks, costing around 500 million euros.

The deal will 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.

A Mistral-class ship can carry up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft, 13 battle tanks, around 100 other vehicles and a 450-strong force. It has facilities for a full command staff and is equipped with a 69-bed hospital.

© 2011 AFP

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