Marseilles: India and France are poised to ink a landmark civil nuclear deal similar to the one with the United States, which will be the first such agreement to be initialled by any country with New Delhi signalling an end to its 34-year-old nuclear apartheid.
Though Indian officials said that the Indo-French Nuclear Cooperation Agreement is expected to be signed soon, France gave its clear indications that it will be inked during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Paris tomorrow for talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy had told that the prospects of cooperation between France and India in the civil nuclear field are “very promising” considering his country’s expertise, long tradition of cooperation with New Delhi and an atmosphere of trust.
India and France had initialled the Framework Agreement for Civil Nuclear Cooperation in January but could not sign it pending a waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. Now that the NSG has given its nod, New Delhi and Paris are free to sign the agreement during Singh’s visit to Paris.
The framework agreement was inked during Sarkozy’s visit to India in January this year.
“We have already initialled the framework agreement in civil nuclear matters. It will certainly come up for review and possible signature during my visit,” Singh told reporters yesterday when asked whether he expected the nuclear agreement to be signed during his two-day tour to Paris.
Prior to their bilateral talks on Wednesday, both Singh and
Sarkozy will meet here on Monday for India-EU Summit as France is the current chair of the 27-nation European body.
The presence of Atomic Energy Commission chief Anil Kakodkar also indicated the possibility of the nuke pact being inked.
An Indian official said India and France may also initial a bilateral social security pact.
Under the planned agreement, more than two lakh Indians in France will be eligible to avail social security benefits. The Union Cabinet had on 18 September approved the terms for signing the pact.
Another agreement which is on the cards is regarding civil aviation.