M A I N   N E W S

EU backs nuclear cooperation with India
Ashok Tuteja writes from Marseilles

The European Union (EU) today strongly supported civil nuclear cooperation with India as the two sides took their economic partnership to a new plane by deciding to increase the volume of bilateral trade to 100 billion Euros in the next five years and conclude a broad-based trade and investment agreement by the end of the next year.

Condemning terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, the two sides pledged to work actively towards a swift finalisation of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism at the UN. At the bilateral level, the two sides expressed commitment to continuing their cooperation on counter-terrorism and early formalisation of cooperation between Europol and Indian agencies.

“How can we fight climate change without India’s participation. We can’t tell India to combat climate change without clean nuclear energy,” Nicolas Sarkozy said in his capacity as President of the European Council at a joint press interaction with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the 9th India-EU summit here.

Sarkozy and the Indian Prime Minister will tomorrow hold the India-France summit in Paris when they are also expected to sign an accord for cooperation in the civilian nuclear energy field.

The 27-member EU’s positive attitude towards civilian nuclear cooperation with India stands in sharp contrast to its ambiguous position on the issue before the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group permitted New Delhi to resume global nuclear trade. Describing the outcome of the India-EU summit as ‘very useful and constructive’, Singh said the two sides would double the bilateral trade from 50 billion Euros to 100 billion Euros in the next five years.

Singh held talks with the EU troika, including Sarkozy, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and high representative for common foreign and security policy Javier Solana. The two sides discussed a range of global issues, including climate change, nuclear non-proliferation, food security and energy security and global economy.

In a joint communique issued at the end of the summit, the two sides reaffirmed their strong and continued commitment to the government of Afghanistan in its efforts to build a democratic and pluralistic society.

On the India-France summit tomorrow in Paris, Singh said the issue of nuclear energy cooperation between the two sides would come up for talks.




Allays EU concern over attacks on Christians
Ashok Tuteja writes from Marseille

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed his government’s resolve to protect all minorities in the country after the European Union expressed serious concern over recent ‘massacres’of Christians in Orissa and Karnataka.

Describing the attacks on Christians as ‘acts of national shame’, Singh said his government and the country’s polity stood firmly in defence of protecting secular values and the right of every citizen to profess and propagate the religion of his own choice.

Singh was addressing a joint press conference with Nicholas Sarkozy, who is also the President of the European Council, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the end of the ninth India-EU summit in this French port city.

Sarkozy raised the issue during the summit and appreciated the steps taken by the Indian government to deal with the situation arising from the attacks. “Although it is an internal matter of India, we appreciate the strength and clarity with which the Prime Minister has condemned the attacks unequivocally.”

Singh told the EU leadership that India was a secular State with a multi-racial and multi-religious society.

“There have been sporadic incidents of violence against the Christians,” the Prime Minister said, adding that central forces had been sent to the states where these attacks had occurred to tackle the situation.



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