Coop in nuke energy on agenda during Sarkozy visit

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New Delhi, Jan 21: Cooperation in civilian nuclear energy, Defence, climate change and economic linkages is high on agenda of talks between India and France during French President Nicolas Sarkozy's visit here on January 25-26, informed sources said today.

The sources said the two countries had completed negotiations on the Civilian Nuclear Framework Agreement but France would wait for India to conclude parleys with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG.) ''We will be ready with a text to take a decision once India is ready after negotiations (with the IAEA and NSG) are concluded,'' the sources said. The French President who is arriving here on January 25 on a two-day State visit, primarly to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade the next day, will have official engagements on the day of his arrival.

He will be accompanied by a huge delegation including six Ministers, about 60 CEOs, 20 people from the higher education department and two of his personal invitees.

However, speculation continued on whether his girlfriend Carla Bruni will accompany him. The sources, when asked, merely expressed ignorance.

On January 25, he will call on President Pratibha Patil and have talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on several bilateral matters and regional and international issuess including Pakistan and Iran.

The delegation-level talks between the two countries will be preceded by one-on-one talks between President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Singh.

This is the second time during the past decade when a French President is the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade.

In 1998, the then President Jacques Chirac was the Chief Guest on the Republic Day.

The sources said three main ''domains'' would be covered during the discussions between President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Singh. These include Strategic Partnership, international situation like Pakistan, Iran, Africa and the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). ''The main idea is that India has to be given the place it should enjoy as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and an enlarged G-8...France and India have so much in common that they can share in sensitive areas within the framework of international obligations,'' the sources added.

The Stategic Partnership also means that France is ready to share with India sensitive technologies in areas including civilian nuclear energy and Defence.

The sources said India had made its choices and is a non-proliferating State with a high rate of growth.

''Therefore, how do we make it possible for India to increase civilian nuclear energy in future?'' the sources added.

They said that since India had not signed the NPT, a special status was necessary. President Sarkozy would go one step further if India goes through with the IAEA and the NSG.

France would also stress upon ''green growth'', the sources said, adding that there was need to ''diminish CO2 (carbon di-oxide) emissions.'' ''Our strong belief is that there is a solution through which we can deal with economic growth and CO2 emissions,'' they said.

The two countries would also discuss cooperation in education and Science and Technology.

Agreements would also be signed for cooperation in Defence and Communication technology, trade and investment and higher education.

The French President will also address an economic conference which will be Chaired by Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath.

UNI

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