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India-EU to sign nuke pact; discuss free trade pact

business Updated: Nov 06, 2009 02:16 IST

India and the European Union will sign an agreement in civil nuclear field at their summit in New Delhi on Friday during which the two sides are also expected to give a political push to the negotiations for a free trade pact.

The issue of climate change and global financial crisis will also figure prominently in the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Swedish counterpart Fredrik Reinfeldt, whose country is the current chair of the 27-nation grouping.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will also participate in the 10th annual summit which the two sides will also discuss stepped up cooperation in counter-terrorism and look at ways to double trade to $200 billion by 2013.

The highlight of the summit would be an agreement in the field of civil nuclear that will facilitate joint research in fusion energy.

The agreement "aims at intensifying cooperation to develop scientific understanding and technological capability underlying the fusion system in the long term. It will develop a specific agenda for fusion research cooperation that goes far beyond ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Research project)," the European Commission said here today.

The pact will mark India's formal participation in ITER, an ambitious multi-country project to be based in Cadarache in France at an estimated cost of about 4.6 billion Euro ($5.4 billion or Rs 25,000 crore). The project involves the US, EU, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea.

Ahead of the summit, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma met EU Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton and said the two sides are looking at doubling the trade to $200 billion in the next four years.

On the negotiations for a free trade pact, which have been dragging for two years, Sharma made it clear that the agreement would be delayed because of persisting differences.

EU is trying to link the pact to "extraneous issues" like child labour and environment which India is resisting.

"The summit will underline the joint commitment to achieve progress in the negotiations on a bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (free trade pact)," the European Commission said.

The Summit is expected to give a political push to the negotiations on the free trade agreement.

The two sides would also be discussing collaborative ways to tackle the global financial crisis as well as reform of multilateral financial institutions.

Climate change would also be high on the agenda in view of the upcoming Copenhagen Summit.

The EU has been saying that it is ready to help developing countries, including India, if they "deliver" on climate change.

India has been showing its willingness to do its bit to fight climate change but is refusing to accept any binding commitments on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.