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Asia-Pacific

Nuclear deals and diplomatic backing during Sarkozy's trip to India

media Sarkozy with his wife Carla Bruni at the Indian Space Research Organisation … Reuters

French President Nicolas Sarkozy kicked-off his four day trip to India on Saturday. The president and his delegation of ministers and business leaders are expected to lobby for deals involving nuclear technology and fighter jets. He also backed India’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

“We all know how critical it is for India to ensure its energy security,” Sarkozy announced during a speech at the Indian Space Research Organisation in Bangalore, where the Indo-French Megha-tropiques satellite is being built.

He said that the potential for cooperation between France and India on nuclear energy is “limitless”.

It’s the western manufacturers and suppliers who have expressed various concerns. Most of these concerns have been rather subdued and muted given the mammoth scale of business they’re going to generate in India.

Q&A - correspondent Vikram Roy 04/12/2010 - by Salil Sarkar Listen

The Indian environment ministry last weekend gave the green light to a 16-billion-euro deal which will see Areva supply six third-generation pressurised water reactors.

"These deals have been ironed out over the past several months," correspondent Vikram Roy told RFI. "Also the issue of nuclear liabilities of the companies that will be supplying it," he added.

"It is an issue which was also discussed during US President Barack Obama’s visit to India. Various western countries are saying that the stipulations and preconditions India has put in their own nuclear liabilities bill, which saw some heated debate in parliament, are perhaps too stringent," said the New Delhi-based correspondent.

Roy said it "could actually engage the suppliers in long litigations and long compensation cases in the future," and is likely to be one of the main areas of discussion during Sarkozy's visit.

Following similar trips by British Prime Minister David Cameron and United States President Barack Obama, Sarkozy placed emphasis on India’s increasing influence in the world.

“It is unthinkable that 1.1 billion people are not represented in the UNSC. India deserves a permanent seat in the Security Council,” he said to the audience of 500 scientists, business leaders and students.

Sarkozy also touched on India’s security situation, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Reuters

“France stands in total solidarity with India. If India is attacked, democracy is attacked,” he said. “Terrorism and insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan are a major source of threat to world peace and stability. We cannot afford to see the Taliban succeed in Afghanistan,” he added.

Sarkozy meets with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday. The French president's visit comes ahead of trips by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

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