French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday pledged support to India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and repeated long-standing French support for India’s candidacy for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Addressing industrialists, scientists and students at the ISRO Satellite Centre here, he said France was a friend of India that did not speak in two languages. “It means what it says.”
With an eye on his presidency of the G-20, Sarkozy also spoke of plans to set up a G-20 environment fund and of his hopes of seeing India play a role in helping regulate global finance.
Sarkozy arrived in Bangalore at 10.30 am for a four-day official visit with his wife, former model Carla Bruni, seven cabinet ministers and 60 business and civil society leaders. After spending four hours here, Sarkozy left for Agra. The French president is expected to land in Delhi on Sunday afternoon.
Extending support for India's candidacy for the NSG, Sarkozy said it made sense for India to participate in multilateral bodies responsible for drafting and ensuring rules governing the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. “We need to put an end to the nuclear isolation of India. It was injustice done to India challenging your right to access civil nuclear energy,” he said, speaking of “limitless” possibilities in civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries.
"France was the first to say in 1998 that it was time to put an end to India’s nuclear isolation, as it was absurd to prevent such a country from developing its civilian nuclear sector”.
On India’s bid for a permanent UNSC seat, he said: “This is injustice… It is unthinkable to imagine that the one billion people of India are not represented in the Security Council.”
He envisaged an expanded Security Council that included not only the G-4 nations — India, Brazil, Germany and Japan — but also a representative from Africa and the Arab world.
Last month, US President Barrack Obama had backed India’s bid. Two other permanent members, Britain and Russia, also endorse India. The fifth member, China, has not yet clarified its stance.
Sarkozy spoke of the development example India could be. He said if India manages to meet the challenge of effecting development through peace, it will have a huge effect on the world. But when India ushers in development, he said, it must also focus on environmental concerns. “You should safeguard the environment… (after all) you will be first to be affected.”
Sarkozy also saw a major role for India in curbing global terrorism. “Terrorism and insurgency in Pakistan and Afghanistan are a major threat to world peace. We can’t afford to see the Taliban succeed in Afghanistan.”
Condemning 26/11, he said: "When India is attacked, it is democracy that is attacked."
During his visit, Sarkozy will bat for French firms to win contracts for military hardware. India is in the market for 126 fighter jets, a deal worth Rs 50,000 crore, and 200 helicopters worth Rs 18,400 crore. French firms are also negotiating to upgrade the IAF’s 51 Mirage-2000 jet fighters.