Price, tech transfer issues stalling Mistral talks: official

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Negotiations over Russia's purchase of Mistral-class assault warships from France are stalling over price and technology transfer issues, chief of Russian Technologies holding Sergei Chemezov said Friday.

"There is such a problem. Initially we said that the price will include not only the ship but the technology," Chemezov, whose state corporation includes the arms export arm Rosoboronexport, was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.

"It seemed that this was agreed upon on the level of presidents, but when it came down to the level of negotiators, everything stalled. Now we... are butting back and forth."

Russia and France signed a landmark agreement in January on equipping the navy with four of the helicopter carriers, two of which would be largely built in France and two of which would be built in Russia.

The deal, which involves joint construction of the vessels, is the first sale to Russia of such naval high-tech by a NATO country.

Construction of the two Mistral ships would secure jobs in the French shipyards, but France's NATO allies have expressed concern about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry.

The two sides were reported last month as being unable to agree on the contract price as Russia insisted on paying no more than $980 million while France insisted on a contract of at least $1.15 billion.

© 2011 AFP

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