Moscow: Describing Russia as a time-tested
friend, India on Thursday said the two countries will work in 31 new
areas under long-term military cooperation programme to be
inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit here in
December this year.
"Russia is a time-tested, dependable friend of India.
Our special defence relationship with Russia will continue,"
Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters at the end of his
three-day official visit to Moscow.
"The extension of our long-term defence cooperation
programme till 2020 would include 31 new areas," he said but
declined to give details.
Antony, who co-chaired the 9th session of the India-
Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical
Cooperation along with his Russian counterpart Anatoly
Serdyukov, said that the military cooperation with other
countries "will not be at the cost of Russia."
He thanked Russia for the cooperation extended to
India in developing indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant.
"Cooperation in such sensitive areas will continue,
but I have my own secrets to keep," he said when asked about
the new areas of defence co-operation.
Antony said under the new programme -- marking the
decisive transition from the 'buyer-seller' relationship to
the joint research -- development and production of futuristic
weapon systems and platforms like fifth generation fighter
aircraft and multi-role transport aircraft for the military
projects would shortly enter into the phase of implementation.
Responding to a question on the issue of aircraft
carrier Gorshkov, Antony said the talks would be continued
next month, when a Russian team is scheduled to visit India.
"In last six months the things are moving on the fast
track and both sides are committed to resolve the issue at the
earliest," he said.
Responding to a question about the recent CAG report
criticising the Gorshkov deal, Antony said: "We are keeping in
mind CAG report and can say something only after the upgraded
Gorshkov is delivered in 2012."
Regarding the delay in the delivery of Akula-II class
nuclear attack submarine on 10 year lease, he said the issue
was discussed with the Russian Defence Minister.
"He assured that everything is being done to cover up
the delay caused by last year's accident and the submarine
will be handed over at the earliest," Antony said.
Besides the military-technical cooperation Antony also
discussed the strategic issues, including the situation in
Afghanistan and Pakistan with Russian defence minister as they
pose common threats and challenges to both countries.
First Published: Friday, October 16, 2009, 00:19