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Russia lends Sri Lanka $300 mln for arms purchases

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Sri Lanka signed on Monday a $300 million loan to buy armaments and dual-purpose technology for Sri Lanka's military, Russia's deputy finance minister said.

Dmitry Pankin said it is a 10-year loan with LIBOR plus 3.5% interest.

According to some sources, the arms deal will cover not only purchases but also extensive repairs of Russian military equipment previously delivered to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka remains highly militarized after almost 25 years of constant fighting against the Tamil Tiger militants.

In May, the Sri Lankan military finally defeated the Tamil separatists, killing their leader in an operation that brought the civil war to an end. International rights groups accused the military of killing large numbers of civilians who were being used as human shields by shelling rebels in the war zone.

Russia's stance at the United Nations last year amid international criticism over Sri Lanka's military operations against the Tamil Tiger helped to quash a possible motion of censure.

The president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is on a working visit to Russia - the first in the history of bilateral relations.

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