Russia in talks to sell passenger planes to Syria: report

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Syria is holding talks with Russia for the supply of two Russian Tupolev passenger planes, throwing a lifeline to the troubled plane maker, Kommersant daily reported on Monday.

Sources at Russian plane maker United Aircraft Corporation, which controls the plant in Ulyanovsk making Tupolev planes confirmed to the paper that the company is discussing a deal to supply Syria with two Tu-204 planes.

Syrian deputy prime minister Abdallah Dardari said on Sunday that Damascus was interested in buying Russian planes and talks had begun between the two countries, the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported.

Syria is subject to United States sanctions that mean it cannot import goods with more than 10 percent US-produced components.

The Tu-204 passenger planes were developed in the 1980s to replace the ubiquitous Tu-154, the most popular passenger plane in the Soviet Union which is increasingly phased out due to its high fuel consumption and a reputation for poor safety standards.

Tupolev's maker is on the verge of shutting down owing to a lack of orders on the Tu-204, Kommersant said. A deal with Syria could keep the production line going, it said.

Iran had previously ordered five Tu-204 planes, but the deal fell through since the planes were equipped with US-made engines making the delivery subject to sanctions.

© 2010 AFP

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