Official: Russia and France close to deal in four warship talks
Russia and France are close to an agreement on the price of four helicopter carriers to be delivered to the Russian navy, a senior negotiator familiar with the talks said Tuesday, reported dpa.
"We have agreed on most things, but talks on the price are still continuing," said Sergei Chemezov, director of the Russian foreign trade agency Rostekhnologiya.
The rough price for the construction of four French-designed Mistral class aircraft and troop transporters will be around 1.4 billion dollars, he said.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy last Thursday said their governments had agreed in principle on the arms deal.
The four major warships were initially expected to cost the Kremlin close to 3 billion dollars, according to early Russian news reports.
The project plans the construction of two helicopter carriers in the French port St Nazaire, and two more in a new Russian shipyard to be built near the city of St Petersburg.
At a May 26 press conference, Sarkozy said he expected a final agreement on the ship deal "in 15 days."
The Mistral class is a category of transport and attack warship typically loaded with some 16 helicopters, 450 troops, and assault boats. The Russian navy currently operates a single aircraft carrier, built in the 1980s.
If completed, the Mistral carrier sale to Russia would be the largest arms transfer to Moscow from a western nation since World War II.