India-US civil n-deal good for the world: France


New Delhi : France Thursday ruled out a bilateral civil nuclear pact with India, but vigorously supported New Delhi’s integration into the global civil nuclear order, saying that the India-US nuclear deal is “a good thing for India and for the world”.

Support TwoCircles

“I don’t want to interfere with India’s internal political affairs or India-US relations. Going further in global cooperation in civil nuclear energy with India is good for India and the world,” said French Minister for Higher Education and Research Valerie Pecresse.

“Not at all,” she told reporters at the India Habitat Centre when asked whether the stalling of the deal, which the Left allies of India’s ruling coalition oppose, has affected France’s enthusiasm for cooperation in the area of civil nuclear cooperation and technology.

Pecresse is the first French minister to visit India after President Nicolas Sarkozy was sworn in May this year. Sarkozy will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day function next year.

“We want to increase civil nuclear cooperation with India. But in order to go ahead, we want India to first sign safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to negotiate an exemption with the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Pecresse said at a joint press conference with Indian Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday defended the nuclear deal, saying it was an “honourable deal for India, for the world and for non-proliferation”.

The two countries are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research this year.

Pecresse also made a pitch for nuclear energy as clean energy that has helped France to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. “Nuclear energy is a good choice. France made that choice long time ago. We are happy that we made that choice,” she stressed.

“It’s a very demanding choice. We have to be very careful about the safety of civil nuclear power plants,” she said.

Pecresse, however, ruled out any exclusively bilateral pact with India in the area of civil nuclear energy. “For civil nuclear energy, there is an international law. We have to respect the international law,” she said.

France is the world’s leader in civil nuclear technology, with nuclear power accounting for 83 percent of its energy needs.

France was one of the first few countries that supported the landmark nuclear deal that aims at ending India’s nuclear isolation after a gap of nearly three decades.

Pecresse also underlined the attractions of France as a destination for higher education and research saying the country combined high academic quality with low university fees.

During her talks with Sibal, the two ministers discussed various steps to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of science and technology.

The two sides decided to focus on the setting up of three International Associated Laboratories in the field of neurosciences, nano-materials and organic chemistry.

The setting up of an Indo-French Institute of Science and Water and expanding cooperation in the field of space also figured prominently in discussions between the two sides.

Pecresse will visit Bangalore Friday where she will discuss the possibility of the joint launch of satellites with Indian scientists.