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China Mulls Buying Russian Submarines

State arms exporter Rosoboronexport has signed a framework agreement with China on the joint development and construction of four non-nuclear Amur-1650 conventional submarines for the Chinese Navy, a news report said Thursday.

The final contract is tentatively worth $2 billion and is expected to be signed by the parties no earlier than 2015, Kommersant reported.

The agreement stipulates for two of the submarines to be built in Russia and two in China, with special provisions in place in the contract to ensure that no intellectual property is copied from the Russian side, a source close to Rosoboronexport told the business daily.

An additional agreement for the first stage of work could be signed by the end of the year, he said, adding that a Russian contractor had not yet been selected for construction of the submarines.

China may become the first buyer of the Amur-1650 submarines, beating out India and Venezuela, both of which previously expressed interest, Kommersant said.

Another source close to the arms exporter said the submarine contract "is very important for Russia and tops the presidential list of projects with China."

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