France, India sign nuclear deal
INDIA: France firmed up a 9.3-billion-dollar deal to sell two
nuclear reactors to India on Monday following talks between French
President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
India signed a “framework agreement” with France’s state-run nuclear
group Areva for the purchase of two reactors for a new plant in Jaitapur
in the western state of Maharashtra.
“Negotiations (with Areva) have reached an advanced stage to pave the
way for the launching of nuclear power reactors in Jaitapur in
partnership with Indian industry,” Singh told a joint press conference.
The deal is short of a final sale agreement, but it means Arena has
moved ahead of competitors from the United States and Japan in the race
to sell reactors to India, which is investing heavily in atomic energy.
Russia is already constructing two nuclear power units in the
southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
The Maharashtra plant is set to ultimately have six reactors, but the
first two are worth 7.0 billion euros (9.3 billion dollars), according
to the French presidency.
Sarkozy is on a four-day trip to India, where he is seeking deeper
trade ties while acknowledging his hosts’ increased role on the world
British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama
have both swept through India with similar messages recently, as Western
nations look for export opportunities in a fast-growing country seen as
a natural ally in Asia.
Sarkozy heads a delegation of six ministers and around 70 chief
executives, including the bosses of aircraft and defence groups Dassault
Aviation and EADS. France recently took over the presidency of the G20
group of developed and major developing economic powers and Sarkozy
sought support for his agenda, while also strongly backing a more
influential role for India in world affairs.
He reiterated his support for India to have a permanent seat on the
United Nations Security Council — a key foreign policy objective for New
Delhi — and suggested it might simply transform its current temporary
seat in 2012.
According to the French presidency, Singh has pledged his “support”
for Sarkozy’s G20 programme, which includes overhauling the global
monetary system and combating commodity price volatility.
France is also seeking a slice of the billions of dollars earmarked
by India for a military upgrade, but competition is fierce among foreign
arms manufacturers and no contracts were signed on Monday.