French President Nicolas Sarkozy is batting for India. He wants India in an expanded version of the G8. When this exclusive club of nations meets in Japan, the President expects a “significant step” forward. The man in the news is also bullish about civil nuclear cooperation with India.
In an exclusive e-mail interview, Sarkozy described India as a “key player” on Thursday, without whom it wasn’t possible to address global issues. Expanding the G8 into a G13 formed part of his international priorities, the President, who arrives Friday to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, said.
France and India were on the verge of “finding an agreement” on civil nuclear cooperation. “This is one of the stakes of my visit in India: to bring to fruition this evolution that I deem essential for India’s development and the protection of the global environment.”
“Once India concludes a safeguards agreement with the IAEA and the NSG announces its decision, we shall be able to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with India,” he promised.
The President chose to answer all the questions e-mailed to him by HT, barring one about whether or not companion Carla Bruni would accompany him to India, or would he see the Taj alone.
Echoing the sentiments expressed by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a couple of days ago, Sarkozy stated that the UN Security Council, the IMF and the G8 had to be adapted to create a 21st century world order.
Expressing regret at the collapse of the Eurocopter deal, the President said he respected the decision of Indian authorities. However, France was ready to back Dassault, the manufacturer of the Rafale, if it decided to bid for the 126 fighter aircraft required by the Indian Air Force.
To avert a clash of civilizations, Sarkozy called for a relentless battle against terrorism, helping the forces of moderation and modernity so that an “open an tolerant Islam could develop” as well as being open to dialogue with those who choose peace over hatred.
“And, from this point of view, the example of India, where so many nations, languages, religions co-exist, can inspire us,” the President stressed.
“I don’t define myself with reference to others,” Sarkozy replied when asked whether his foreign policy posture was a radical departure from that of predecessor Jacques Chirac, who distanced Paris from Washington.
“The French have been allies of the United States since the creation of this country…France is a standing friend, an independent ally, a free partner,” the President said in an animated response.
Defending his recent dealings with Muammar Gaddafi and Hugo Chavez, Sarkozy remarked: “But I want to be clear so that there is no misunderstanding: this diplomacy of reconciliation is in no way a diplomacy of convenience.”
He called for a new way of conceiving international relations. “Non-alignment is a concept that sprang up in reaction to (a) bipolar world, which has disappeared. One has to draw conclusions from that!”