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    Yemen plans to buy more MiG-29 fighters from Russia

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    The president of Yemen said his country plans to buy a number of MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters and other military equipment from Russia, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

    MOSCOW, February 26 (RIA Novosti) - The president of Yemen said his country plans to buy a number of MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters and other military equipment from Russia, a newspaper reported on Thursday.

    Ali Abdullah Salah, who is currently on a visit to Russia, met on Wednesday with President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss military and trade cooperation, as well as tackling piracy and terrorism.

    "These [the MiG-29] are excellent aircraft. We have had them for a long time and several years ago we brought them to Russia and carried out their modernization program," the Yemeni president said in an interview published by Russia's Vremya Novostei newspaper.

    "Suffice it to say that we are planning to acquire more of these aircraft and probably MiG-35 fighters as well. We are also in talks on the purchase of Russian helicopters and patrol boats," he added.

    About 90% of the military hardware and aircraft used by the Yemeni Armed Forces were made in the Soviet Union. Yemeni Air Force currently has 44 MiG-29SMT and MiG-29UBT fighters in service.

    Yemen and Russia are currently holding talks to reach an agreement on the maintenance of military hardware, component supplies and training of Yemeni military personnel in Russia.

    According to Salah, he and his Russian counterpart discussed measures to counteract terrorism and anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden. The UN said Somali pirates carried out at least 120 attacks on ships in 2008, resulting in combined ransom payouts of around $150 million.

    The Yemeni leader has proposed to set up a regional anti-piracy center in the port of Aden to coordinate the international efforts in fighting sea piracy off the Somali coast.

    He also said Yemen will render all necessary assistance to Russian warships involved in the current anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden.

    Russia has already rotated a number of combat vessels among some 20 warships from the navies of 16 countries that are operating in the area.

    At present, the Admiral Vinogradov destroyer from Russia's Pacific Fleet escorts commercial ships through the dangerous waters around the Horn of Africa.

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