Paris, Sept.30 : India's re-entry into the global nuclear trade market after 34 years was achieved today with the historical signing of a bilateral agreement for civil nuclear cooperation with France.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and the chief of the Department of Atomic Energy signed the agreement in the French President's office in the Champs Elysee here in the presence of President Nicholas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. A joint statement issued after a Summit-level meeting between visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and French President Nicholas Sarkozy here said that the agreement would form the "basis of the wide-ranging bilateral collaborations in energy and research."
It was also stated that both countries recognize "the need to promote the development of stable sustainable, efficient and affordable energy sources, including nuclear energy."
In this context, they welcomed the agreements adjusting the international civil nuclear cooperation framework to enable collaborations with India.
The statement also said that Singh and Sarkozy reaffirmed the importance attached by their respective countries to their strategic partnership and their commitment to further strengthening bilateral cooperation in a wide range of areas.
It stated that both countries are committed to international peace and security, nuclear non-proliferation, the fight against terrorism and the need to ensure food security and energy for all countries.
The Indian delegation also appreciated French support for permanent membership of India in the UN Security Council, and reiterated that along with other developing countries, it is committed to continue dialogue and collaboration with the Group of Eight developed countries.
On its part, France said that it believed the G-8 needed to be expanded over time to a G-13 that includes India.
Both countries also agreed on the need for improved global economic governance to ensure that globalization and interdependence work for the benefit of all.
They expressed full commitment to consolidating their relationship in the field of defence by increasing the range, level and frequency of their military exchanges, joint exercises, joint program and prospects in the fields of defence industry, research and technology.
It was agreed that the possibility of joint development of Short Range Surface-to-Air Missiles (SRSAM) and of the Kaveri engine for Light Combat Aircraft, besides the upgrading of the Mirage-2000 aircraft, would be accelerated.
On the issue of space cooperation, both governments welcomed the signature of a bilateral framework agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
India described France as an important partner in this field for four decades.
The statement said that the commercial agreement for the use of India's PSLV for the launch of European satellites marked a new milestone in Indo-French ties.
It said that ISRO and CNES are also working as equal partners in Megha Tropiques Joint Satellite Mission which is progressing well along with SARAL (Satellite for Argos and Altika), slated to be launched in 2009-2010 and which will contribute to better scientific understanding of weather and climate related issues. ]
The two countries also agreed to promote institutional linkages in the space sector, and welcomed the signing of an agreement on training of personnel from the Indian Institute of Space Technology (IIST) and Ecole Polytechnique.
Both countries agreed to a revised bilateral trade target of 12 billion Euros by 2012.
It was agreed that small, medium and micro enterprises of both countries would be further encouraged to increase their cooperation.
The two sides also agreed to further liberalise their visa regime to facilitate issuance of visas for business purposes, particularly concerning students and young people working as trainee or as volunteer in French companies and for people-to-people contacts.
An agreement on Social Security for the benefit of business enterprises and professionals of the two countries was also concluded to facilitate two-way investments.
The two sides also welcomed the creation of the High Level CEOs Forum that would have its first meeting by the end of the year.
It was also agreed to hold dialogue on environmental issues and have set up a joint working group on climate change and technology transfers and their financing. The group should hold its first meeting by the end of the year.
Both sides welcome the signature of the MoU between the Agence Franaise de Dveloppement (AFD - French Development Agency) and the Department for Economic Affairs of the Indian Ministry of Finance which will allow the AFD to start its operations in India.
India and France also underlined the vitality of Indo-French scientific, technical and educational cooperation.
It was agreed that the Indo-French Consortium of Universities will facilitate the organization of courses of mutual interest at Master's degree and Ph.D levels by Indian and French universities, increase the number of academic institutional tie-ups, scholarships, joint projects, seminars and novel collaborative schemes including substantive contribution of French higher educational institutions to the creation of one of the eight new Indian Institutes of Technology.
The Indo-French Consortium would also facilitate the mutual recognition of degrees, encourage student/faculty mobility and intellectual exchanges.
Both sides reiterated their commitment to intensify cooperation in the field of culture, tourism and to foster people-to-people contacts.
A political commitment to establish an Indian Cultural Centre in Paris at the earliest was also agreed upon.
It was agreed to work towards concluding a visa free agreement for diplomatic and official passport holders. y Naveen Kapoor