Iranian Defense Minister to Visit Moscow on September 24
Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani, who cancelled last week a visit to Moscow, will instead go to Russia on September 24, reported the Tehran Times newspaper, citing reliable sources.
He was supposed to leave last Tuesday but called off the trip because Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was scheduled to be in Moscow at the same time.
Sources told the paper that the Iranian minister will sign agreements on defense and the transfer of technology from Russia to Iran.
Informed sources told the paper that Iran was not aware of the simultaneous visit, and called its ambassador to Moscow, Mahdi Safari, immediately after the ministers were informed.
The Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Central Asian Affairs, Firooz Dowlatabadi, expressed dissatisfaction and announced the cancellation of Shamkhani's trip through the Iranian ambassador.
The Russian government was said to have apologized for the unfortunate coincidence and said that another invitation would be sent to Shamkhani as soon as possible.
Iran's purchases from Russia have included battle tanks, MiG-29 fighter jets, long-range torpedoes, so-called Smart Mines and long-distance S-200 anti-aircraft missiles.
Experts say defense contracts could be worth up to $500 million annually for a number of years.
Meanwhile, the Persian-language NITV announced that France and Germany have recently expressed interest in selling weapons to Iran, said the paper.
The television network added that the governments of South Korea and Pakistan are keen to do business with the Islamic republic.
Most of Iran's arms imports are from North Korea, Russia and China.
France has expressed willingness to sell Mirage jets to Iran and Germany has also said that it would sell tanks and submarines to the Islamic republic – Albawaba.com
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