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Nuclear initiative to top agenda

india Updated: Sep 22, 2008 13:45 IST

PTI
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The crucial civil nuclear cooperation will be high on the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his 10-day visit to the US and France beginning today.

The Prime Minister will attend the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) where he would pitch for collective and multilateral approaches to deal with global challenges like food and energy crises and terrorism.

"I will draw the world community's attention to the need for the reform of international institutions, including of the United Nations, and to address global challenges such as the food and energy crises, terrorism and progress on the Millennium Development Goals," he said in a departure statement.

On the sidelines of the UNGA, Singh would also hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders including those from China and Pakistan. He would then visit Washington on Thursday at the invitation of President George W Bush.

"I look forward to my discussions with him on the entire range of issues on our bilateral agenda with the United States, including our civil nuclear initiative," he said.

He noted that bilateral relations with the US had "expanded significantly" in areas of interests like education, trade, business, technology, energy and agriculture.
"The engagement between the two countries has strengthened and we are pursuing the multi-faceted cooperation to our mutual benefit," the Prime Minister said.

In the US, the Prime Minister also plans to meet a group of American CEOs and members of the Indian American community, "both of whom have contributed to the consolidation of relations between India and the US."

In France, Singh would attend the India-EU Summit in Marseilles and later pay a bilateral visit to Paris at the invitation of President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Terming India's relations with France of "long standing and of strategic importance", he said "I am confident that my visit will lead to the further consolidation of our relations in the areas of trade and investment, defence, space, civil nuclear cooperation and high technology."

At the annual India-EU Summit, Singh would seek to strengthen cooperation in diverse areas including counter-terrorism.

The European Union is India's largest trading partner with whom it enjoys multi-faceted strategic relationship, the Prime Minister said.

"India and Europe are bound by the common values of democracy and pluralism. We have diverse areas of cooperation including in the area of counter-terrorism which I will seek to strengthen.

"I look forward to attending the India-EU Business Summit being held on the sidelines of our Summit," Singh said.