France makes no tech-transfer commitment yet in warship sale to Russia

08:28, June 12, 2010      

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Visiting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have talked mainly about bilateral technology and science cooperation Friday here, which highlighted French warship sale to Russia, but Sarkozy 's office later said the two sides haven't agreed on technology transfer in the deal.

Putin left the Elysee Palace after the meeting without saying anything to reporters, but earlier in the day when inaugurating " Russian National Exhibition" in Paris' Grand Palace, he said Russia and France should make "united efforts" in scientific and technological domains.

Russian Industrial Minister Viktor Khristenko, who accompanied Putin's visit, said Russia intends to enhance technology cooperation with France under certain forms.

Inquired by French Press Agency with respect to the Mistral deal, the Russian minister said there was no politics but only business in the deal. "For us, the most important thing is to buy technology, that's the future," Khristenko said.

During a recent interview with French media, Putin said "the transaction (of Mistral) will be interesting only if it is accompanied meanwhile with technology transfer."

However, the French side didn't make any clear agreement. "The same principle of the cooperation will take place in a sharing of the production" of the warship, Sarkozy's office later told French media that the president shunned the sensitive issue of technology transfer during their talk.

Joint production of the Mistral vessels between Russia and France already closely related to know-how transfer, according to the same source.

The Mistral vessel is currently France's second largest warship. With a length of 200 meters, the French navy's flagship can carry as many as 16 helicopters besides infantry troops.

The two countries started the warship sale negotiation last year. After Putin and Sarkozy held "exclusive negotiation" in this March, France has actually acquiescence the order of four vessels without "military equipment."

France later agreed build only two vessels in France, which means shipbuilders of the buyer's side could take part in the building of the remnant two in Russia, but Russia insisted to participate in three ships' construction.

If implemented, this deal will be the first that a NATO member provides Russia with such a sophisticated weapon system. The United States and some Eastern European countries neighboring Russia have expressed concerns over the deal.



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