India, France to give new impetus to strategic ties
( dpa ) - India and France on Friday finalized negotiations for a bilateral agreement on cooperation in civilian nuclear energy and signed five pacts in the areas of defence, science and nuclear research to give a "fresh impetus" to their strategic partnership.
The two countries agreed to enhance trade and investment, technology transfers and cooperation in the scientific, nuclear, defence and culture and educational fields, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a joint press briefing with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in New Delhi.
"We know that India's energy needs are huge. If we don't allow access to civilian nuclear energy, it will go to more polluting sources," said Sarkozy, who held wide-ranging talks with Singh in the Indian capital.
According to the joint statement issued at the end of talks, the agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, "forms the basis of wide ranging bilateral cooperation from basic and applied research to full civil nuclear cooperation including reactors, fuel supply and management."
Paris will sign the agreement after India reaches a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and gets exemptions from the Nuclear Suppliers Group for its nuclear deal with the US.
Both countries also signed agreements on mutual protection of classified information in the field of defence, and cooperation in the area of neurosciences.
Another agreement relates to the participation of the Indian Department of Atomic Energy in a research project, the Jules Horowitz Reactor, which will be built by the French Atomic Energy Commission.
Sarkozy, who is in India on a two-day visit, also said both sides had agreed to strengthen cooperation to fight terrorism.
During the talks, Sarkozy reiterated France's support to India's bid for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.
Contrary to speculation in the Indian press, Sarkozy arrived in New Delhi on Monday morning without his girlfriend Carla Bruni.
However, the local media was abuzz that the 40-year old pop-singer could join the French leader when he visits the Taj Mahal, among the world's leading romantic spots, on Saturday.