OTHERS

Russia refutes Pak. charge

MOSCOW, NOV. 1. Moscow has caught Islamabad forging false reports regarding Russia's policy in the region. Russia's Defence Minister, Mr. Sergei Ivanov, refuted a Pakistani media report that Moscow had allegedly entered into a deal with Washington to send 250,000 Russian troops to Afghanistan to support the U.S.- led war against the Taliban.

``It seems this is what the Pakistanis would want to see happen,'' the Russian defence chief told reporters on Thursday. Moscow has repeatedly stated its support for the anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan was confined to non-military assistance to the U.S. and supply of arms to the Northern Alliance.

Another senior Russian official denied a Pakistan-originated report that Russia had sold Islamabad military transport helicopters. Mr. Andrei Belyaninov, head of Russia's arms export monopoly, Rosoboronexport, denied Pakistan embassy claim that Moscow had agreed to sell Islamabad MI-17 transport helicopters. ``There is no truth in this report,'' Mr. Belyaninov told an informal get together with Moscow-based foreign correspondents on Thursday.

Pakistan's Ambassador to Moscow, Mr. Iftikhar Murshed, told Russian media recently that Pakistan had clinched a deal with Russia to buy 16 MI-17 helicopters. MI-17 is dual-purpose aircraft that can be for both military and civilian purposes. It can lift four tonnes cargo and can also be used in a combat role by fitting rocket pods and machine guns.

Mr. Belyaninov also denied suggestions that Pakistan could have bought the helicopters bypassing his company, Rosoboronexport. He reiterated that Russia has a policy of not selling either arms or dual-purpose technology to Pakistan.

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