France's Sarkozy to visit India Jan 24, nuclear deal on agenda
( AFP ) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to visit India on January 24 with Paris hoping to sign a nuclear energy accord with New Delhi, France's foreign minister said.
Bernard Kouchner said he hoped India would soon reach an agreement with the UN's atomic watchdog on inspections and safeguards, a precondition to an accord with the United States and any future deal with France.
"We are in favour of initialing a sort of strategic agreement but we have to wait for the (International Atomic Energy) Agency," Kouchner told journalists after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He said France was in "favour of India getting back to the international nuclear power agency... We are waiting for that."
Kouchner said Sarkozy was due in India on January 24. "We have a lot of projects and we are eager to see their results during the visit of the president,"he added.
The India-US pact would end three decades of international sanctions on nuclear trade with India imposed after New Delhi tested nuclear weapons.
The accord is controversial because it sidesteps India's refusal to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Singh's government is also facing stiff domestic opposition to the accord from its communist allies, who argue it may threaten the country's nuclear weapons programme and allow US intervention in the country's foreign policy.
As well as the United States and France, Russia is also eyeing fuel-hungry India as a major atomic energy market.