PM hopes India-France build partnership in nuke energy

PM hopes India-France build partnership in nuke energy

PM hopes India-France build partnership in nuke energy

On a five-day visit, Singh will travel from Paris to Sharm-el Sheikh in Egypt tomorrow for the 15th Non-aligned Summit during which he would meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani with the hope of getting a categoric commitment that Mumbai attackers would be punished and cross-border terror stopped.

Singh, who is visiting Paris at the invitation of French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be the chief guest at the National Day celebrations of France, which he said "is an honour for the people of India."

"India and France enjoy a close and wide ranging strategic partnership. Our relations with France encompass a large number of areas and have served our national interests well," Singh said in a departure statement.

"We would like to build upon our partnership in the areas of trade and investment, high technology, space, nuclear energy, defence, education, culture, tourism and scientific research and development," Singh said.

At the G-8 meeting in L'Aquila in Italy last week, the US had persuaded the developed world to stop transfer of enrichment and reprocessing items to non-NPT nations, including India.

France, which had signed a civil nuclear energy pact with India last September is a member of both G-8 and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Atomic Energy Chairman Anil Kakodkar had said that it would be a matter of concern if the G-8 nations insisted on banning transfers of nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technology and equipment to non-signatories of the NPT.

In a communique, the French President said he wishes to "honour" France's strategic partnership with India through Singh's visit.

France, he said, fully supported India's bid for UN Security Council seat and had called for enlargement of G-8 to include India, Brazil and China, and other emerging economies in the grouping.

Further strengthening defence cooperation is also likely to figure prominently in the talks Singh will have with Sarkozy.

Defence Secretary Vijay Singh will be part of the PM's delegation to the talks.

Singh said non-alignment has been the bedrock of India's foreign policy since it was enunciated by late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

"Non-alignment remains an article of faith for us," he said, adding in the post-Cold War era, when the world was no longer divided into two military blocs, the NAM has a renewed role to play in the emerging world order.

Noting that the diversity and universality of the NAM offered the grouping a unique opportunity to address present day challenges, Singh said, "India will play its part in helping NAM to regain its moral high ground to address issues which are of direct concern and relevance to developing countries."

The issues would range from sustainable development, climate change, food security, energy security, terrorism and reform of the architecture of international governance, he added.

The PM said during his stay in Egypt, he would hold bilateral meetings with leaders of Bangladesh, Egypt, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

The highlight of Singh's visit to Egypt will be his meeting with Gilani on the margins of NAM summit.

Singh made it clear that New Delhi would "do all that is necessary" to resolve all outstanding issues if Pakistan takes "credible action" to deal with terrorist elements targeting India.

Singh said he hoped that the Pakistani leader would give a "renewed reaffirmation" to bring the perpetrators of 26/11 attacks to justice and that they would not allow Pakistani soil to be used for terror acts directed against India.

The Singh-Gilani meeting, expected on July 16, will take place one month after the Indian leader met President Asif Ali Zardari in Yekaterinburg in Russia. During that meeting, Singh had bluntly told Zardari under media glare that Pakistan must end terror directed against India.

Prior to the two PMs' meeting, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir would discuss what Islamabad has done to bring to book 26/11 perpetrators and to dismantle terror infrastructure.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and National Security Adviser M K Narayanan are part of Singh's delegation to the NAM Summit. 

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