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Russia and India to sell arms to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka met with Indian and Russian delegations last week on possible arms purchases including air defence weaponry as clashes with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) escalate.

Defence officials from India and Russia held separate talks with Sri Lankan authorities on improving systems used against the low-flying Czech-built Zlin Z-143 operated by the LTTE.

The Sri Lankan military is seeking to upgrade its fleet of Mi-35 helicopter gunships and talks with the Russian delegation focused on buying a "major consignment" of Russian-made weapons.

According to Sri Lankan newspapers, the military delegation from Russia offered to help Sri Lanka by exporting a variety of military hardware through its state-owned trading arm, Rosboronoexport.

The nine-member Russian delegation led by Mr. Glushchenko Vasiliy Andreevich, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.

The delegation also included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the General Prosecutor's Office and of the Federal Service of the Russian Federation for Narcotic Traffic Control.

According to an official statement released during the visit, Sri Lanka and Russia have decided to join hands in fighting international terrorism, drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime.

The two sides were working on finalising a bilateral treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters during two days of bilateral negotiations and substantial progress has been made on the draft text of a mutual legal assistance treaty, and the two sides have agreed to meet again soon with a view to finalising the outstanding issues, the statement further stated.

India which has provided a radar system to Sri Lanka's military held talks on upgrading the equipment and improving the air defence capability of government forces.

Sri Lanka has been trying to upgrade its weapons and air defences since Tamil Tiger earlier this year began flying light aircraft smuggled into the country in pieces to be later re-assembled

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