France to help India at NSG: Sarkozy

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New Delhi, Jan 25: France said it is willing to 'advocate' India's case for acquiring civil nuclear energy with other European countries and at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in view of its commendable non-proliferation track record.

The two countries also finalised negotiations to arrive at a bilateral agreement on civilian nuclear energy cooperation. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, addressing a joint press conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after their ''very productive and wide-ranging'' discussions here, said both countries had agreed to concretise their Strategic Partnership and jointly combat terrorism and Islamic extremism. ''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.

The Prime Minister, in reply to a question, 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 Prime Minister said the two countries had also finalised negotiations to arrive at a bilateral agreement on civilian nuclear energy cooperation.

The two countries signed four Agreements including on cooperation in Civil Nuclear Energy, Defence, Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners and Development Cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Neuro Sciences.

The two countries signed four agreements including for construction and operation of Jules Horowitz (JH) Reactor. It was signed by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chairman Dr Anil Kakodkar and Mr Alain Bugat, Chairman and CEO of the Commissariat a L'Energie Atomique (CEA) of France. The other three agreements are for Protection of Classified Information and Security, Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners and Development Cooperation. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also signed for cooperation in the field of Neuro Sciences.

The Prime Minister said the two countries had reaffirmed strong mutual desire to further strengthen the long-standing strategic partnership.

He appreciated France's steadfast support for lifting of international restrictions on nuclear cooperation with India and thanked President Sarkozy for pledging support to India for permenent membership of the UN Security Council.

The two leaders also agreed on the need to reform international institutions to bring them in conformity with existing realities.

''We have agreed that there is immense scope for India and France to work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive international order,'' Dr Singh added.

President Sarkozy who arrived here this morning on a two-day state visit, will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade tomorrow.

He will also visit the Taj at Agra during day and return to Delhi. He will leave for Paris tomorrow evening.

The French President, who had a packed schedule today, was given a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan after which he held meetings with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of Opposition L K Advani.

He also called on President Pratibha Patil.

Editors pick up suitably from related series.

UNI

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