France to advocate India's case for civil nuclear energy

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New Delhi, Jan 25 (UNI) Indo-French bilateral ties are poised for a major fillip with the two countries agreeing to upgrade their Strategic Partnership and strengthen cooperation in areas, including Civil Nuclear Energy, Defence, counter-terrorism and trade and economy.

France promised it would advocate India's case for acquiring nuclear energy for development with the international community and at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an assurance likely to allay India's concerns in the sensitive area, while both countries finalised negotiations for a bilateral agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation.

The two countries also agreed to strengthen Defence ties by upgrading cooperation from buyer-seller arrangement to joint research and transfer of technology.

France also reiterated full support for India's permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

Visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, while addressing a press conference jointly with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after their talks here, appreciated India's track record in the nuclear field and described it as a responsible nuclear power.

''France will be India's advocate with the international community for India acquiring civilian nuclear energy...India is considered a responsible nuclear power which is sticking to IAEA guidelines. So France will be the advocate,'' President Sarkozy said in reply to a question.

Dr Singh said international negotiations on issues like civilian nuclear energy, took time. Nevertheless, India's discussions with the IAEA were moving forward and would be completed successfully without loss of further time.

''One must recognise that international negotiations do take time. Our discussions with the IAEA are moving forward and can be concluded successfully without loss of further time.'' Dr Singh said.

The proposed bilateral Indo-French agreement for civil nuclear energy cooperation will form the basis of wide-ranging bilateral cooperation from basic and applied research to full cooperation including reactors, fuel supply and management.

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