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Despite US pressure, India won't back out of buying S-400 missile systems from Russia

India will not abandon the purchase of the S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia despite US pressure as New Delhi is committed to all its military-technical cooperation with Moscow, India's Ambassador Pankaj Saran said here today.

India has concluded price negotiations with Russia for a nearly Rs 40,000 crore deal to procure S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the Indian Air Force, officials in New Delhi said last month.

In an interview with the state-run TASS news agency, India's Ambassador to Russia Saran, who has recently been appointed the Deputy National Security Advisor, said that India will not back out of buying S-400s.

Military-Technical cooperation between India and Russia was discussed during the informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last month, he said.

It was the first informal Summit in the history of India-Russia relations.

The envoy said the date for the annual bilateral summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin has not been announced but he expects it to take place sometime in October in New Delhi.

"We are committed to all our agreements in this sphere, including purchase of S-400. India has a long history of military-technical cooperation with Russia based on trust and mutual benefit. There is no change in the approach of India to our partnership in this field," Saran said.

Asked if Russia could expect signing of an agreement on supply of S-400 by the end of this year, the Indian envoy said he would not like to fix any time-frame.

"I can only say that we have achieved significant progress in the negotiations," Saran said.

Officials in New Delhi have said that India and Russia are now trying to find a way out to evade the provisions of a US law that seeks to punish countries and entities engaged in transactions with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.

Both sides are now looking at ways to insulate the deal from the sanctions announced by the US against Russia under its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The US had announced sanctions against Russia under the stringent law for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016.

CAATSA, which came into effect in January, mandates the Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.

Asked about the reason for organising the informal summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Putin, Saran said that the summit was characterised by a special personal chemistry between the two leaders.

"The reason for this unscheduled meeting was that both sides wanted to exchange opinions on key global and regional issues including development of situation in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran as well as to discuss matters of bilateral interest.

"Today relations between India and Russia are important not only for our two countries but also for the region and the whole world. And we would like to build a multi-polar world where India and Russia will contribute to global stability," the ambassador added.

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