12/22/2010, 00.00
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Russia and India agree to US$ 35 billion contract for 300 fighter jets

Moscow and New Delhi plan to develop and build fifth generation fighter planes. Russian President Medvedev is in India to renew old ties. He backs India’s aspiration for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council. The two partners plan to double trade over the next five years.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Russia will supply India with fighter jets, missiles and nuclear reactors. The announcement was made yesterday during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to India. At the same time, "The Russian Federation supports India as a deserving and strong candidate for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council," a joint Russian-Indian statement said.

The declaration follows similar ones by the United States and France. The United Kingdom also does not appear to oppose India’s permanent seat. Only China has not clearly come down one way or the other. In fact, whilst New Delhi and Beijing have seen their relations improve recently, they remain traditional rivals.

China is also not very keen to see Japan get a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

In his recent visit to India, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said that China “understands and supports India's aspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations, including in the Security Council,” but did not go so far as to endorse a permanent seat for New Delhi.

Russia is one of India’s closest political and economic partners since Soviet times. For decades, it was New Delhi’s main weapons supplier, even though the Indians have recently sought to diversify their suppliers and inched closer to the United States.

Russian-Indian trade hit the US$ 10 billion mark this year, but the two countries plan to double that by 2015.

They will also work together to develop and build 250-300 fifth generation fighter aircraft over ten years in a contract estimated at US$ 35 billion.

Russia successfully tested a prototype of its fifth-generation PAK FA stealth fighter in January, beating out its US and European competitors.

On the nuclear front, Moscow will provide New Delhi another two civilian nuclear energy reactors in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Energy-hungry India is one of the world's biggest nuclear power markets, with plans to expand its capacity nearly 15-fold to 63,000 megawatts by 2032.

The Russian president, who headed a delegation that included about 100 business leaders, yesterday met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sing and the ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi.

Today he is in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, and will visit some Bollywood studios.

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