M A I N   N E W S

India, France take N-step forward
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
India and France today took a significant step forward in bolstering their strategic partnership when they announced finalising negotiations for reaching a bilateral agreement for civil nuclear cooperation and taking their defence cooperation “beyond a buyer-seller relationship.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the finalisation of negotiations regarding the Indo-French civil nuclear cooperation agreement at a joint press conference with visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy after their intensive talks at Hyderabad House. The Prime Minister said the two sides also decided to bolster their defence cooperation and take it “beyond a buyer-seller relationship”.

For his part, Sarkozy came up with an announcement that was music to the Indian government. He said France would advocate India’s case for acquiring civil nuclear energy with other European countries and at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in view of New Delhi’s commendable non-proliferation track record.

The French side, however, minced no words in telling the Indian government at talks today that the Indo-French nuclear agreement could not materialise till the Indo-US nuclear deal passed muster at the IAEA and the NSG and the international rules for nuclear commerce were changed in India’s favour.

The Prime Minister said India’s negotiations with the IAEA were moving forward and hoped that these would be concluded “without loss of further time”. The Prime Minister said: “International discussions do take time… The discussions are moving forward. It is my sincere hope that discussions can be concluded without loss of further time.”

The Prime Minister’s comments assume significance as the Indian team is tipped to leave for Vienna next week for technical negotiations with the Agency for the fifth round, expected to be the final round of negotiations.

A joint statement issued at the end of Sarkozy’s talks with Manmohan Singh said: “France and India have decided to give a new impetus to their cooperation for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as an expression of their strategic partnership.”

An agreement was signed today in the field of nuclear research, which is a key for preparing for the future. It relates to the participation of the Indian Department of Atomic Energy in the research project, the Jules Horowitz Reactor, which will be built by the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique (French Atomic Energy Commission) at Cadarache, France.

An MoU that establishes cooperation between the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research on the one hand, and the Grand Accélérateur National d’Ions Lourds (GANIL), on the other hand, on the use of Spiral 2 high intensity beam production system at Caen, France will be signed in Mumbai.

India and France also agreed to intensify exchanges between the scientists of both countries in the nuclear field, establish structures for training and undertake nuclear safety research. At the industrial and commercial levels, France and India agreed to work towards raising the level of bilateral cooperation guided by their deep mutual trust and the high technological capabilities of the two countries.

Both countries will consolidate their relationship in the field of defence by increasing the range, level and frequency of their military joint operations and cooperation. In this regard, it was agreed to deepen their joint programmes and prospects in defence industry, conduct joint research and facilitate transfer of technology in this vital areas.

Both Sides welcomed the signing of the Agreement for the Protection of Classified Information and Security and decided to initiate detailed discussion on the Status of Forces Agreement.

India and France agreed to maintain the momentum of cooperation in the space sector. On bilateral trade, the two sides pledged to work towards achieving an ambitious target of reaching 12 billion euro bilateral trade by 2012 and significantly stepping up investments.

President Sarkozy extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of India to pay an official visit to France in 2008 on the occasion of EU-India summit. The Prime Minister accepted the invitation in principle.

France also supported India’s inclusion as a permanent member of Security Council. Sarkozy also conveyed to the Indian side his conviction that the G-8 needed to be expanded over time to G-13, including India.

On the issue of terrorism, the two sides resolved to strengthen their cooperation against international terrorism by increasing operational contacts.




Turban talks held

Majinder Pal Kaur, Director of United Sikhs, addresses a press conference on the issue of ban on turban in France, in New Delhi on Friday.
Majinder Pal Kaur, Director of United Sikhs, addresses a press conference on the issue of ban on turban in France, in New Delhi on Friday. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

New Delhi, January 25
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today took up with French President Nicolas Sarkozy the issue of ban on turban in France.

Dr Singh raised the issue during his talks with Sarkozy who responded by saying that there is no ban on wearing of turban in France though use of religious symbols in certain situations was prohibited, sources said.

Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani also took up the matter with Sarkozy when he called on the latter.

Sources close to Advani said Sarkozy assured him that he would look into the matter. — PTI




Bruni to join Sarko at Taj today

New Delhi, January 25
After intense speculation, ultimately Italian-born supermodel turned singer Carla Bruni is finally coming to India and will visit the monument of love, Taj Mahal, tomorrow along with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Carla Bruni will skip the Republic Day parade, as also the official ceremonies but not a visit to the Taj Mahal with President Sarkozy. The media in Delhi is in tizzy to capture the most celebrated couple in camera.

Bruni has been making headlines around the world for her relationship with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which started late last year.

Sarkozy will travel to the 17th century monument after witnessing the Republic Day parade in New Delhi and his 40-year-old Italian-born lady love is virtually all set to accompany him there, sources said.

However, sources did not indicate when Bruni would arrive in India and then travel onwards to Agra. — ANI



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