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Sarkozy promises more nuclear reactors to India

New Delhi: India and France on Monday signed seven agreements which included a go ahead for the two 1650 MW nuclear power plants at Jaitapur in Maharashtra despite protests by the residents of the area. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that his country would eventually build six nuclear reactors in India even though pricing and technical issues are yet to be sorted out.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, while addressing a joint press conference with Sarkozy in New Delhi on Monday, said that India and France were in an advanced stage of negotiations to launch nuclear reactors in Jaitapur.

“Negotiations are in an advanced stage to implement Jaitapur reactors. Research and training of Indian Scientists and waste management were also discussed,” said Singh.

The big agreement was signed between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and France’s AREVA for construction of the two nuclear plants. A separate Memorandum of Understanding was also signed between Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and France’s National Space Studies Centre.

Manmohan Singh said India and France are determined to reach the billion bilateral trade target set for 2012.

“President Sarkozy’s visit highlights strategic partnership between India and France and reflects the personal commitment of President Sarkozy,” said Manmohan Singh.

“France has been India’s most reliable defence partner. France is highly supportive of India’s space capabilities. France will collaborate in creating centre of excellence in IIT Rajasthan,” said Singh.

Singh also added that counter-terrorism is another significant area where India and France have been making quick progress. Sarkozy added that terror had no place in the civilized world and called upon Pakistan to live in peace with India.

“Our cooperation on counter-terrorism is without limits and when Mumbai became a martyr city with hundreds killed and injured, France stood shoulder to shoulder with India. France will do all it can to help India. Pakistan must live in peace alongside its Indian neighbours. Your history has been painful, we have known this in Europe but in the 20th century men of goodwill led us to understand that the only way forward is to develop together and not against one another from where the European Union emerged. We call upon Pakistan to fight terrorism and we have the same understanding of events in Afghanistan and applaud India’s commitment to help develop a prosperous Afghanistan,” said Sarkozy.

“When I came in 2008 I had said India should be able to access and be a member of all nuclear fora. We have not come to visit as a major client. We have come to visit a partner in the nuclear area and our cooperation here is limitless. This is only the beginning of six reactors,” he said.

Highlighting the defence cooperation between the two countries is also very important, Sarkozy said, “I am happy we are going for joint exercises and what we can offer is limitless. I am thinking of the next generation of fighter aircraft. I am talking of the Rafale aircraft. We believe in India’s future.”

The French President reiterated his commitment for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for India and added that it was very important for equilibrium in the world.

“You cannot exclude 1 billion people from settlement of world issues,” said Sarkozy.

Thanking Sarkozy for supporting India’s bid for a permanent UNSC seat, Singh said, “We will work closely with France to push global economic recovery and financial sector reform. France has been a consistent advocate of permanent UNSC seat and has supported India in other fora.”

Terming the bilateral talks as “extremely productive”, Singh said that there has been a progress on all issues.

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