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Hurdles cleared for AK 203 rifles deal with Russia; likely to be sealed during Putin's India visit


AP19247200991520

NEW DELHI: India and Russia are likely to seal the long-pending AK 203 Kalashnikov rifles deal under the Make in India initiative during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit here next month for summit talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, people familiar with the development said on Tuesday.

A meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh deliberated on key aspects of the joint venture and is learnt to have cleared the hurdles for its finalisation, they said.

Under the nearly Rs 5,000 crore deal, the Indo-Russian joint venture will produce over six lakh AK 203 rifles over a period of 10 years at a manufacturing facility in Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.

The contentious issues that have been sorted out now included the cost component, the sources said.

Both sides had given in-principle approval for the deal Singh's visit to Moscow last year.

The joint venture is also expected to explore the possibility of exporting the AK 203 Kalashnikov rifles.

Putin is likely to visit India on December 6 for the summit with Modi.

The two sides are also looking at holding the inaugural '2+2' defence and foreign ministerial dialogue around the time of the summit.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Singh are scheduled to hold the dialogue with their Russian counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoygu.

The Modi-Putin summit is expected to produce specific outcomes in further expanding ties in areas of defence, trade and energy.

It is learnt that the two sides are going to firm up a number of agreements in the areas of defence, trade and investment, and science and technology at the summit.

A framework for military-technical cooperation is set to be renewed for the next decade at the summit besides announcing a joint commission on technology and science.

India and Russia have also reached the final phase of negotiation for a logistics support agreement and it is likely to be signed either during the two-plus-two talks or at the summit.

The pact will allow militaries of the two countries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.

The summit was postponed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the countries have a mechanism under which India's prime minister and the Russian president hold a summit meeting annually to review the entire gamut of ties.

So far 20 Annual Summit meetings have taken place alternatively in India and Russia.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)