backs US-India nuclear deal
Delhi, Jan 25: French President Nicolas Sarkozy, seeking to
cement political and business ties with a booming India, voiced
support at the start of an official visit for New Delhi`s
controversial nuclear deal with the United States.
also echoed Britain`s recent support for India`s bid to become
a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council,
where Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States
have wielded exclusive veto power since 1945.
are on the verge of finding an agreement which will enable
the development of civilian nuclear cooperation with India,"
Sarkozy told a newspaper in an interview published on Friday.
deal aims to give India access to U.S. nuclear fuel and equipment
for the first time in more than 30 years, even though New
Delhi has tested nuclear weapons and refused to join non-proliferation
"This is one of the stakes of my visit in India: to
bring to fruit this evolution that I deem essential for India`s
development and the protection of the global environment,"
a possible controversial move, France also announced on Friday
that the government will give a prestigious award, the Prix
Simone de Beauvoir to Taslima Nasreen, a Bangladeshi author
exiled in India who recently sparked riots by Muslims offended
by her books.
against her forced authorities to house her in a secret security
facility in New Delhi, and she has appealed for more freedom.
The Indian government came under attack last year for failing
to give her enough vocal support.
French government asked India to take "all measures"
needed to help her journey to France for the award.
accompanied by a business delegation, will meet with Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh, and attend a military parade on Saturday
to mark India`s Republic Day.
visit comes after British Prime Minister Gordon Brown`s visit
earlier this week, the latest leader drumming up support for
business with the growing economic powerhouse, which is also
increasingly playing a more important diplomatic role in Asia.
nuclear deal, opposed by the Indian government`s leftist allies,
needs the support of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group
(NSG), whose members work to prevent nuclear exports for peaceful
purposes from being used to make atomic weapons.
must agree unanimously on an exemption for India if the deal
is to go ahead, as New Delhi has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty. Many see the deal as dead after leftist opposition,
but the government still hopes to seal it.
deal would enable major nuclear technology exporters such
as France to do business with India.
India has forged strong defence ties with France in recent
years, with deals for Mirage jets and Scorpene submarines
to modernise its military, the world`s fourth largest.
say revival of the Eurocopter deal for 197 military helicopters
- which was dumped by India last month - could figure in Sarkozy`s
Dassault Rafale is also eyeing a deal to provide India with
the world`s biggest fighter jet contract in years, expected
to top USD 10.2 billion for 126 fighters.
the manufacturer Dassault decides to present an offer, the
French government will support it," Sarkozy told a leading
media was at first more interested in the possible visit -
later cancelled - of Carla Bruni, a singer and former supermodel
who was reported to be near to marrying Sarkozy.