Indo-French Nuclear Framework Agreement ready to be signed

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New Delhi, Sep 19 (UNI) The Nuclear Framework Agreement between India and France is ready and it depends upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Nicolas Sarkozy when to sign it as the two leaders prepare to meet in Paris for a bilateral Summit later this month.

French Ambassador to India, Jerome Bonnafont, said the agreement was initialled in January this year during Mr Sarkozy's visit to New Delhi and France would like cooperation between the two countries to start as soon as possible.

''It is up to them (the two governments) to decide. We had initialled the agreement when President Sarkozy was in Delhi in January. It is ready. We have a couple of procedures to complete...

There is no obstacle. What has to be decided, and it is upto our governments which are discussing it presently is when we are going to sign. I can only say that we would like our cooperation to start as soon as possible,'' the Ambassador said in an interview to a television channel.

Pointing out that the date of signing was to be decided by the two leaders, the Ambassador, while commenting on reports in Indian media that the agreement would be signed during the Prime Minister's visit to Paris, said ''It is up to them to say when they want to say and to say what they want to say.'' ''...when it comes to heads of States and governments, one has to respect their responsibilities and the fact that they are the ones who, in a democracy, have been given the responsibility to carry out the interest of their respective nations. Therefore, in a question of this nature, it is up to them to say when and how they want to say it,'' Mr Bonnafont said.

Describing the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) clean waiver to India for nuclear commerce with the rest of the world as ''very important development'', he said that for France it was a very good news because Paris had been working towards this agreement since 1998 when the then French president Jacques Chirac was in India on a State visit and said that both countries had to address the nuclear question in a new manner.

''...it took ten years but finally we arrived at this decision a few days back in the NSG on the basis of India's commitments, which is very important...And those commitments made by India have made it possible for the NSG to decide that countries should be allowed to enter into civil nuclear cooperation agreements with India,'' he added.

He said the NSG waiver was based on a couple of commitments by India that it is going to be a responsible state in terms of non-proliferation, is going to put its civilian nuclear installations under IAEA safeguards etc.

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