New Delhi: Paving the way for construction of French nuclear reactors in the country, India and France on Monday signed a general framework agreement and four other pacts for deeper bilateral cooperation in the atomic energy sector.
After delegation-level talks between visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, both sides also signed three other agreements.
"President Sarkozy's visit is fourth in a series of high-level exchanges between India and France in the last three years. This reflects importance of the strategic partnership. Discussions were wide ranging and extremely productive. We made significant progress on all issues. On nuclear energy, the negotiations have paved the way for nuclear reactors at Jaitapur. Several other agreements in nuclear areas such as research and training, nuclear safety, waste management have also been concluded," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said while addressing a press conference after the talks.
"France is our one of the most reliable defence partners. Counter terror is significant area of cooperation where we are making good progress; science and technology are emerging as new sources of growth which will drive relationship forward," he added.
Speaking to the media, President Sarkozy said, "We have not come simply to visit a major client, but a partner. The signing of the two EPRs (reactors) is just the beginning."
Supporting India's bid for a membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Sarkozy said, "We support India to be part of any nuclear forum that it wishes to participate in."
The general framework agreement between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and French company Areva has been signed for construction of nuclear power plant (NPP) units in Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
An 'Early Works Agreement' between NPCIL and Areva was also signed for the project. The early works pact is essential to start implementation of the 10,000-MWe nuclear project at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.
Another agreement on 'Protection of Confidentiality of Technical Data and Information Relating to Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy' was also signed following the talks.
Seeking to enhance cooperation in the atomic energy sector, a cooperation agreement between the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and France's atomic energy commission the Commissariat A L'energie Atomique Et Aux Energies Alternatives(CEA) was signed for engagement in the field of nuclear science and technology.
An agreement concerning intellectual property rights on the development of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy was also signed.
Besides those on nuclear cooperation, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Centre National D'tudes Spatiales (CNEc) for Cooperation also signed a pact for cooperation in the field of earth science and climate change.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni and French Minister of Culture and Communication Frederic Mitterrand inked an agreement on film co-production. (With PTI inputs)
(Read: PM hosts dinner for Sarkozys)
(Watch: President Sarkozy at ISRO)