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Moscow: No jet talks with Argentina

The Russian government has denied holding negotiations on leasing a dozen supersonic bombers to Argentina - but admits officials would be willing to consider it.

Alexander Fomin, head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Co-operation, a government agency tasked with co-ordinating arms trade, denied media reports claiming Moscow was in talks on offering Argentina a batch of 12 Su-24 bombers on lease.

According to the Interfax news agency, Mr Fomin said that "regrettably, the issue isn't being discussed, but we are ready to discuss it".

Reports of the possible deal raised concerns in the UK that Argentina could use the bombers capable of high-speed, low-altitude raids to attack the Falkland Islands.

Two days ago, Argentina's foreign minister sharply criticised Britain for building up its military capacity in the disputed islands.

Hector Timerman said Britain's move underscored an unwillingness to negotiate in the face of UN resolutions urging the two nations to do so.

The bomber deal speculation comes as Russia-West relations have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the Ukrainian crisis.

The US and the European Union have slapped bruising economic sanctions on Moscow over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula a year ago and its support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

Alexei Pushkov, the Kremlin-connected head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, recently defended Russia's move to take Crimea by tweeting: "Crimea has much more grounds to be part of Russia than the Falkland Islands have for being part of Great Britain."

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