Russia, US agree chopper deal for Afghanistan: report

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Moscow and Washington have agreed the terms of a contract to supply Afghanistan with 21 MI-17 helicopters, Kommersant daily said on Wednesday, adding Russia would pocket $367.5 million as a result of the deal.

Citing Germany's special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan Michael Steiner and Afghanistan's Air Force Chief of Staff Abdul Wahab Wardak, the business daily said the countries had agreed the deal which had been the subject of talks between NATO and Moscow for over a year.

"As the Americans told me, the contract is about to be signed," the Afghan general told Kommersant.

"We expect the aircraft will begin being delivered already at the end of the year -- we very much need it," he said, adding that the price of one helicopter stood at $17.5 million.

Washington has decided to pick up the tab after months of talks between NATO and Russian officials ground to a halt.

Some NATO states pressed Russia to deliver some of the helicopters for free as they were unable to pay Russia for the aircraft.

Citing sources close to the Russian defence ministry, Kommersant said the firm deal had not yet been signed but its price tag would include cost of repair, spare parts and pilot training.

© 2011 AFP

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