Egypt eyeing French Mistral warships: AFP

AFP , Friday 11 Sep 2015

Canada, India, Singapore and Egypt are "seriously" interested in buying France's two Mistral warships, a senior official has said, after Paris scrapped a deal to sell the vessels to Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Louis Gautier, an official who advises the prime minister on defence and security matters, also told lawmakers this week that the cost of abandoning the agreement with Russia would be at least 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) if the government did not find another buyer, according to a summary of his comments obtained by AFP Friday.

That figure includes the costs of the maintenance required to keep the pair of amphibious helicopter-carriers in operational condition and fees for keeping them docked in the western port of St Nazaire, which together are running at a whopping five million euros a month.

However, it does not include the costs of removing Russian fittings -- including communications equipment -- that are already on the ships, Gautier said.

Work to remove the fittings is not expected to be complete until March.

The deal to sell the warships to Russia was formally cancelled in early August in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine last year.

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