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Yemen to buy more Russian fighters: president

Posted by Kris Roman on February 26, 2009

plane-mig-29k-bg

Russian MiG-29 fighter aircraft

Yemen seeks to buy more Russian fighter jets among other military hardware, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said in an interview published Thursday by the Vremya Novostei daily.

“We had had the (MiG-29) fighter airplanes for a long time, they are good fighters. Suffice to say that we intend to buy more of them, I will not say how much, but it will be MiG-29 and maybe MiG-35,” Saleh told the daily.

“We are also holding talks on buying Russian helicopters and cutters,” Saleh, who arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, added.

The two countries may conclude a 250 million dollar (194 million euro) deal for the purchase by Yemen of 100 armoured vehicles, 300 Kamaz trucks and 50 mortars with ammunition, the Kommersant newspaper wrote Wednesday, citing a source at Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

But this would be far short of Russian hopes of securing a major chunk of a four billion dollar military modernisation programme Yemen is undertaking, for which the United States and Russia’s neighbour Ukraine are also vying.

The paper said that two weeks ago, Yemeni officials had been to Moscow with a massive shopping list of military equipment, but talks faltered on a request to write off 1.2 billion dollars of Yemeni debt to Moscow.

Questioned on the funding for the deal, Saleh assured that Yemen had the means to foot the bill.

“And if Russians help us find more oil, gas and metals, it will be even better. Then we will definitely buy many airplanes,” he said.

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