India to join nuclear mainstream

Visiting French president negotiates military and nuclear cooperation with India.

    India is ranked as the biggest weapons buyer among emerging nations [EPA]

    "India has never proliferated, and it has made it clear that it wants to separate its civil nuclear programme from its military one," Sarkozy said at a joint news conference on Friday with Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister.


    "To the best of my knowledge, it's only a matter of weeks and the authorisation [from the IAEA] will be given," he said.


    France and India have completed negotiations on a civilian nuclear technology agreement, the two leaders said, but Sarkozy said the deal depends on India concluding its own agreement on nuclear safeguards with the IAEA.


    India's booming economy is desperate for energy, and such deals would allow the country to buy nuclear fuels and reactors.


    They would also bring India into the nuclear mainstream after decades of its isolation due to its refusal to sign non-proliferation treaties and its testing of nuclear weapons.


    Military ties


    Also on Friday, India and France agreed to strengthen military ties and go beyond a "buyer-seller relationship," Singh said on Friday.


    "I think it is very important that India and France should cooperate, share information and intelligence gathering for defence of the values which are dear to both our countries," he said.


    The two sides had earlier signed an agreement on protecting classified defence information, which Singh said "reaffirmed our strong mutual desire to further strengthen our strategic partnership."


    "This partnership is longstanding and rests on shared values and similar approaches to regional and global issues," the prime minister said during the joint news conference


    "A global fight against terrorism is essential to protect open, democratic and multi-cultural societies like our two countries."


    France has been hoping to use the state visit to revitalise relations with India, a country ranked as the biggest weapons buyer among emerging nations.


    It is expected to spend an estimated $30 billion on defence purchases over the next five years.


    France was the second largest arms supplier to India after Russia but has now been overtaken by Israel.


    Sarkozy will be the guest of honour at India's Republic Day celebrations Saturday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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