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Russia, France to jointly build two warships
France and Russia will jointly build two French Mistral-class warships, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office announced Friday. France's NATO allies have expressed concern about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry like the ship.
AFP - France and Russia have agreed to build jointly two French Mistral-class command and amphibious assault warships, with the possibility of two more, President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said Friday.
"Following the October 5 tender to supply the Russian navy with two projection and command ships, the Russian authorities have chosen the consortium of France's DCNS and STX and Russian naval yard OSK," it said.
"Their offer initially covers the joint construction of two of this kind of vessel, which should be extended by the construction of two more," Sarkozy's Elysee Palace said in a statement.
The deal is the first sale to Russia of such naval high-tech by a NATO country and France's NATO allies have expressed concern about arming Russia with modern Western weaponry.
Russia's choice of the French ships came after French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said during a visit to Moscow earlier this month that France was ready to transfer military technology if it won the tender.
Russia had been in exclusive talks with France to buy two Mistral-class amphibious assault ships but in August the defence ministry announced an international tender.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had stressed that the price and the possibility of technology transfer to allow Russia to subsequently learn to build its own warships of the same class, would be key criteria in Russia's choice.
Over several months, talks with Moscow have stalled on the question of technology transfer.
France has been negotiating with Russia since 2009 on a possible deal to sell Moscow the Mistral, a powerful warship costing around 500 million euros (650 million dollars).
A Mistral-class ship can carry up to 16 helicopters, four landing craft and a 750-strong landing force. It is equipped with a 69-bed hospital.
"Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Sarkozy congratulate each other on the realisation of this unprecedented cooperation, which will benefit industry and employment in both our countries," the statement said.
Sarkozy's office said the deal would lead to the creation of 1,000 jobs in French shipyards over four years.