French President Nicolas Sarkozy said France and India are poised to reach an agreement that will pave the way for civil nuclear cooperation while respecting international rules and boosting the non-proliferation system.
“The only promising way is the one currently taken by India'' in its talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency and countries like France, Sarkozy told the Hindustan Times, according to a transcript of the interview given by the French presidency. “This should lead to a special regime for India with the framework of the Nuclear Suppliers Group'' of nations.
In the interview to be published today, Sarkozy said reaching an agreement is one of the key points of his state visit to New Delhi today and tomorrow. As soon as India reaches an agreement with the IAEA and obtains the nod from the NSG, France and India will be able to sign an agreement which will allow France to provide India with the most-advanced type of nuclear plants, and develop a wider cooperation, he said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is trying to persuade his communist allies and opposition parties to allow a nuclear accord with the U.S. to be implemented. The communists, who support Singh's coalition government in parliament, and opposition parties say the accord will hurt India's strategic defense program and compromise foreign policy.
Sarkozy also said he respects the Indian government decision to scrap a plan to buy 197 helicopters made by Eurocopter SA, which is based in Marignane, France. The French president said he regretted that the decision didn't come through, adding that Eurocopter will rise up to the challenge. The French government said he will back Dassault Aviation SA if the maker of fighter jets presents its Rafale plane in India's future tender for the purchase of 126 multiple-role combat planes.