France and Russia want to speed up talks on the possible sale of French-made helicopter carriers to Moscow, the Elysee said on Friday after President Nicolas Sarkozy and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met.
Russia hopes to buy four Mistral class warships to modernise hardware that was exposed as outdated during its war against Georgia in 2008. France has said it is willing to sell the ship, but talks have got bogged down over technology sharing.
"Negotiations are going on at a technical level and there is a desire on both sides to speed things up," a French official told reporters.
Russia's top general said in March that any deal to buy the French-made helicopter carriers would depend on weapons systems and other technology being included, terms that France has baulked at.
Asked whether the two leaders had discussed matters such as weapon systems and arms, the official replied: "This question was not raised. They spoke in general terms".
The official added that the idea was to build two of the boats in France and two in Russia, but that discussions were needed on what technology know-how the French wanted to hand over for the construction work in Russia.
"When you transfer construction, you share technology. But does that mean you share all the technology? That is what the negotiators need to look at," he said.
Russia has said that if it had the Mistral during its 2008 war with Georgia, it would have achieved its military goal in 40 minutes instead of 26 hours.
However, the potential sale by France of one or more of the 400-500 million euro ($482-602 million) carriers has alarmed Washington and Eastern European NATO nations.
ReutersLast Mod: 12 Haziran 2010, 09:55