PM, Sarkozy likely to review N-deal

PM, Sarkozy likely to review N-deal

Manmohan Singh will be the chief guest at French National Day celebrations on Tuesday

Singh is travelling to Paris on an invitation from Sarkozy. He will be the chief guest at the French National Day celebrations on Tuesday.

The prime minister is visiting Paris at a time when the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the French nuclear company Areva are at an advanced stage of negotiations on a contract to set up two 1650 MWe new generation European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. Diplomatic sources on Friday said negotiations between the NPCIL and Areva were going on and that the contract may be finalised in about two months.

The nuclear power plants at Jaitpura will be built and operated by the NPCIL with technology and engineering help from Areva.

Despite the minor hitches over tariffs of EPRs and fuel to be supplied by Areva during the entire lifetime of the reactors as well as the civil liabilities in case of an accident, both sides were confident of resolving all pending issues soon, sources said.

The NPCIL and Areva had on February 4 last signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that provided for “discussions for preparing the contract and related details for setting up two to six EPRs, including lifetime fuel supply for the reactors”. The MoU was the first such deal after New Delhi and Paris signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement on September 30 last year, just a few weeks after the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granted a waiver for India. The nuclear agreement is now under ratification in France and has reached the “Chambre Haute” or the Upper House of the French Parliament.

Paris, according to sources, is also ready to reprocess the spent nuclear fuel in the facilities in France, if it is not possible in India.

Sources said Singh and Sarkozy would review the progress made in the operationalisation of the nuclear deal.

They would also discuss the global economic crisis, climate change and a wide range of other issues concerning the two countries, including bilateral trade and ties in the field of defence, culture and science and technology.

India and France had set a target to double the bilateral trade from Euro six billion to Euro 12 billion by 2012. The Sources, however, said the target had been set before the world plunged into the current economic crisis. But, with the early signs of recovery already in sight, both sides hope to meet the target.

DH News Service

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