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MOSCOW: Russia has granted Bangladesh a $1bn loan for weapons purchases and $500m to help one of Asia’s poorest countries build its first nuclear power plant, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.
Putin moved to strengthen Russia’s presence in the South Asian nation, overseeing the signing of the deals signed in the Kremlin after holding talks with Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Russia is the world’s second-largest weapons exporter and is building or seeking to build or upgrade nuclear power plants in several countries in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
“Our countries intend to broaden military-technical cooperation,” Putin said in a joint appearance with Sheikh Hasina after talks, referring to weapons sales and servicing.
He did not specify what weapons or military equipment Bangladesh would buy from Russia with the loan money.
Russian financial daily Vedomosti, citing an unnamed source, reported on Tuesday that Bangladesh planned to buy weapons and armoured vehicles for ground forces as well as surface-to-air missile systems and Mi-17 transport helicopters.
Bangladesh is one of several nations pushing ahead with plans to introduce nuclear power despite concerns raised by the accident at Japan’s Fukushima plant in March 2011. Bangladesh’s demand for fuel is growing sharply in the wake of a shortfall of natural gas. REUTERS