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India, France in pact for two n-reactors, unite against terror

Monday December 06, 2010 04:45:49 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: French President Nicolas Sarkozy Monday vigorously pitched for India's claim for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council as the two sides launched a new phase in their civil nuclear cooperation by signing five atomic pacts for building two 1,650 MW nuclear reactors at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

France also underlined solidarity with India against terrorism and asked Pakistan to act against "safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorist groups".

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sarkozy held talks for nearly 90 minutes that focused on expanding civil nuclear cooperation and forging closer links in the field of defence, space, education and research.

The two leaders also discussed a host of global issues including UN reforms, global terrorism, reforms of international financial institutions, the G20 forum of major and emerging economies and climate change.

Besides five atomic pacts, the two sides signed a pact for co-production of films and another agreement for space cooperation in the field of earth science and climate.

They sought to nearly double bilateral trade to 12 billion euros by 2012.

France's long-term plan to build six reactors in India for producing 10,000 mw electricity over the next few years formed the centrepiece of Sarkozy's four-day presidential visit to India that started Saturday.

The two sides signed five nuclear-related pacts, including an early works agreement and a general framework agreement between French nuclear giant Areva and the Nuclear Power Corpn of India Limited (NPCIL) for implementation of two European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs) at Jaitapur.

"In the field of nuclear energy, negotiations have reached an advanced stage to pave the way for the launching of nuclear power reactors in Jaitapur in partnership with Indian industry," Manmohan Singh said at a joint press conference with Sarkozy.

Several other agreements to expand interaction in the nuclear sector to areas such as research and training of scientists and students, nuclear safety, nuclear waste management and regulatory practices have been concluded, he said.

Sarkozy said that France would eventually build six nuclear reactors in India and backed New Delhi's full membership in elite multilateral nuclear clubs, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement

"When I came in 2008 I had said India should be able to access and be a member of all nuclear fora. We have not come to visit as a major client, we have come to visit a partner in the nuclear area and our cooperation here is limitless. This is only the beginning of six reactors," he said.

Sarkozy is understood to have voiced concerns over some aspects of the civil nuclear liability law, but the issue relating to suppliers' liability is yet to be resolved.

"Following India's enactment of a civil nuclear liability legislation, both countries stand ready to further exchange views on this issue so as to ensure the appropriate framework for the sound development of their cooperation," said the joint statement entitled "India-France: Partnership for the future."

Manmohan Singh admitted that some technical and pricing issues relating to nuclear reactors have yet to be resolved.

Barely a month after US President Barack Obama declared support for India's candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, Sarkozy reiterated France's support, saying New Delh's inclusion on the UN high table was important for global balance.

"It is not just an important matter for India but for the equilibrium of the world," Sarkozy said. He reiterated that it was unfair that a country of one billion should be kept out of the UNSC high table. "India's claim should be rightly as permanent member," said Sarkozy.

In yet another boost to India's struggle against terrorism emanating from Pakistani territory, France supported India's concerns "at the continuing existence of safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorist groups beyond Afghanistan's borders and resurgence of terrorist groups.

"Our cooperation on counter-terrorism is without limits and when Mumbai became a martyr city with hundreds killed and injured, France stood shoulder to shoulder with India," said Sarkozy at the joint press conference.

"France will do all it can to help India. Pakistan must live in peace alongside its Indian neighbours. We call upon Pakistan to fight terrorism and we have the same understanding of events in Afghanistan and applaud India's commitment to help develop a prosperous Afghanistan," said Sarkozy.

Sarkozy is expected to reiterate this message when he visits Mumbai's Taj Mahal Hotel and Tower and the Oberoi Trident, two key targets during the 2008 terror attack, in Mumbai Tuesday, the last day of his visit to India.





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