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'No Gorshkov deal during Antony's Moscow visit'

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MOSCOW (PTI): No new deal on the modernisation of the Kiev class aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov will be signed during Defence Minister A K Antony's three-day Russia visit, top Indian envoy here has said.

“Another round of negotiations would be continued mid-November. The negotiations are proceeding well,” Indian Ambassador Prabhat Prakash Shukla here said on Monday on the eve of Antony's arrival in Moscow.

He said no new deal on the modernisation of Gorshkov will be signed during the visit.

Shukla indicated that efforts are on from both sides to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement on the additional price of Gorshkov up-gradation asked by the Russian Sevmash shipyard.

“The guiding principle is the understanding to reach an agreement as fast as possible,” he said.

Under the initial $1.5 billion contract signed in New Delhi in January 2004, Russia was to deliver the retrofitted aircraft carrier in August 2008.

However, the Sevmash shipyard later demanded that $974 million allocated for the upgradation of the 44.5 thousand tonner vessel, given to the Indian Navy ‘free of cost’, “was not enough to complete the work” and demanded an additional sum of $2.2 billion.

Ahead of Antony's visit, Russia successfully conducted the landing and take-off trials of the MiG-29K carrier-based fighters developed for India on its only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

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