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Military

Russia to sell military aircraft to India

Russia has signed a deal to sell 71 military helicopters to India. At a one-day summit on Monday leaders from both countries reaffirmed their commitment to a long-term strategic partnership.

The deals signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Monday are are estimated to be worth several billion dollars.

In all, the two leaders signed 10 contracts, ranging from science and technology to education, including one that will see Russia supply the parts for 42 Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets, to be assembled under licence in India, the Indian Foreign Ministry said.

A separate contract was agreed to for the delivery of 71 MI-17 attack helicopters from Russia, the Ministry added.

India, one of Russia's main arms export markets, said both sides would additionally create a $2 billion (1.5 billion euros) joint fund for economic and trade cooperation projects.

India is the world's largest arms importer, around 70 percent of which is made up of Russian-made military equipment.

"Russia is a key partner in our efforts to modernize our armed forces and enhance our defence preparedness," Singh said after his talks with Putin.

"A number of joint design, development and production projects are underway in high-technology areas. We expressed satisfaction that these projects are progressing well," Singh added.

The two leaders also discussed regional issues, including the need for stability in Afghanistan, the failing security situation in Syria and the desire to resolve the Iran nuclear program issue through dialogue.

"We reviewed the ongoing developments in Afghanistan and agreed to work together against threats posed by extremist ideologies and drug trafficking," Singh said following the meeting.

Putin described their meeting as "substantial and constructive."

"We agreed to deepen ties in the areas of military and defence sectors," he added.

The day-long visit is Putin's first to the country since being re-elected as Russia's president in May.

The talks were held at Singh's official residence due to ongoing protests in central New Delhi over the gang rape of a student on December 16.

jlw/pfd (Reuters, dpa, dapd)