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Indian navy chief to visit Russia on Thursday

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, March 13, IRNA
India-Russia-Navy Chief
Indian navy chief, Admiral Suresh Mehta, is to visit Russia on Thursday for a six-day tour to boost military ties between the two countries and help speed up the delivery of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier as well as the deployment of MiG-29KUB jets.

Admiral Mehta's visit to Russia would come amid indications of Kremlin's willingness to resolve the "issue of Admiral Gorshkov" by the inauguration of the federation's new president Dmitry Medvedev on May 7, Doordarshan news website reported on Thursday quoting navy sources.

"Hectic efforts are on at all levels to resolve the issue of Gorshkov, which was discussed at the highest political level by President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and now few remaining technical and financial issues are being discussed at experts level," Director of 2nd Asia Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Maryasov said.

During the visit (March 13-19), the admiral, is also expected to hold talks over bilateral cooperation with the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky.

Admiral Mehta, who is also Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, is scheduled to visit Sevmash shipyard in Arctic Russia, where the 44.5 thousand ton Kiev class carrier is undergoing refit.

On Friday, he is to fly on a MiG-29KUB fighter developed by RAC MiG for deployment on Gorshkov aircraft carrier, before leaving for Severodvinsk, where Gorshkov is undergoing refit at the local Sevmash shipyard.

During the tour, Admiral Mehta is also expected to visit 'Zvyozdochka' shipyard in Severodvinsk where a Kilo class submarine is berthed in frozen sea pending trials in summer after the Indian Navy refused to take delivery of the retrofitted vessel "Sindhuvijay" due to failures in its target acquisition and fire control system.

Sevmash is seeking another US$ one billion from India for the completion of the refit by the end of 2010.

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