Russia agrees to buy France's Mistral ship: report

21st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia has in principal agreed to a deal to buy a Mistral helicopter carrier from France and the forthcoming tender will be a formality, a senior Navy official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Russia has been negotiating with France for months to buy the Mistral-class ships, in its first ever purchase of military hardware from a member of NATO.

But talks have been mired by disputes over technology transfer.

In August, Russia said it had thrown open its planned purchase of the vessel to an international tender, ending France's status as the exclusive bidder.

But the Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified senior Navy official as saying the tender would be a mere formality as Russia and France had already agreed on the parameters of the deal.

"The tender to purchase the helicopter carrier, which will be announced before the end of September, will be of a formal character," he said, Interfax reported.

The tender's primary purpose would be to lower the price to a maximum low, he was quoted as saying.

"The tender is formed in such a way as to practically predetermine the victory of the French ship," Interfax quoted the official as saying.

The deal is reportedly worth around 600 million euros (765 million dollars) and would secure jobs in the French yards, but France's NATO allies have expressed concern about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry.

© 2010 AFP

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