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India, France agree on civil nuclear ties

Sandeep Dikshit

‘France had been advocating India’s exclusion from global civil nuclear commerce to fight global warming’


‘Sarkozy’s visit will underline three main domains’

France ready to share know-how in sensitive areas


NEW DELHI: India and France have successfully negotiated an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation but it will not be signed during the forthcoming visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to informed sources.

France had agreed with India’s explanation that it would wait for a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and a special exemption by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the sources said on Monday.

Referring to the joint India-France statement in 2005, which noted the possibility of civil nuclear cooperation, the sources said: “The ambition of Mr. Sarkozy is to go one step further and make everything possible for the day when an India-specific safeguards agreement is finalised by the IAEA and special status given by the NSG.”

The sources pointed out that France had consistently advocated India’s exclusion from global civil nuclear commerce for fighting global warming.

“India is a non-proliferating State and needs additional sources of energy because it has a high growth rate. Since India is not going to change its stance [of not signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty], special status for it is necessary so that it is in compliance with the IAEA rules and recognised by the NSG.”

The Hindu had reported that the agreement was finalised on January 18 and is similar to the one Russia had offered.

Sharing analysis

“The visit [Sarkozy’s] will underline three main domains — strategic partnership, economic ties and student exchange. The idea is also to share analysis and cooperate in all sensitive fields within the framework of international covenants,” said the sources, adding that France would also seek more effort by India in the area of climate change.

The French President arrives here with a large entourage on January 25. He will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade the next day. He will call on President Pratibha Patil and meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Mr. Sarkozy will discuss with Dr. Singh regional issues such as the West Asia peace process, Iran, Pakistan and, possibly, cooperation between the two countries in Africa where India’s presence has increased. France will also reiterate its support for India’s inclusion in the United Nations Security Council and the G-8.

In the area of strategic partnership, France is ready to share with India, “in accordance with international agreements,” technology and know-how in sensitive areas such as space, civil nuclear energy and military.

In economic ties, both countries are satisfied with the growth in trade and expect that the 2005 goal of doubling the volume would be reached.

However, France is at variance with the Indian position on climate and would like India to find ways to delink development and carbon-dioxide emissions without endangering economic growth.

India argues that the initiative should be taken by the developed countries and developing countries should be left out for the time being because the diversion of sources to reduce green house gas emissions would endanger their economic development.

Both sides are hoping to sign agreements between universities to exchange more students.

There could also be a couple of scientific agreements in the areas of neurosciences, nanotechnology and organic chemistry.

There will be announcements on the investment intention of French companies in some sectors.

Mr. Sarkozy’s delegation comprises six Ministers and as many Parliamentarians, besides about 50 top corporate executives and 20 representatives of leading higher education and scientific research and “personal invitees.”

The sources did not confirm whether Mr. Sarkozy’s girlfriend, Carla Bruni, would accompany him, and maintained that such things are decided at the last minute.

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