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India should sign NPT: European body

The treaty will help to establish global civilian nuclear cooperation with India, says the European Parliament chief.

india Updated: Oct 06, 2006 15:07 IST

The European Parliament supports India's quest for civilian nuclear energy, but wants it to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to speed up international civilian nuclear cooperation, says Josep Borrell Fontelles, the president of the European Parliament.

"The European Parliament expects India to sign the NPT. It will help a lot to establish international civilian nuclear cooperation with India," Fontelles, who is visiting India to promote a dialogue between India and the 25-nation European Union (EU), said.

"We support India's growing need for civilian nuclear energy. But Europe is very worried about Iran and the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology," added Fontelles, who is heading a five-member delegation of Members of European Parliament (MEPs).

Fontelles, a Spanish politician who sits with the Party of European Socialists group in the European Parliament, is visiting India ahead of the 6th summit between India and the EU to be held in Helsinki laterin October.

The European Parliament, which produces half of the legislation that affects lives of citizens across Europe, is becoming an increasingly important player in the EU.

Fontelles' views reflect the continuing ambivalence among European countries towards civilian nuclear energy cooperation with India.

Britain and France have come out strongly in support of the India-US civilian nuclear deal but are waiting for the final US legislation that will lift decades-old ban on transfer of civilian nuclear technology and equipment to India. Germany has lately shown signs of softening on the India-US nuclear deal and has indicated that it may support India in the powerful Nuclear Suppliers Group.

But the Nordic countries, including Finland, which holds the current rotating presidency of the EU, have expressed their anxieties about countries like India that are seeking global civilian nuclear commerce without signing the NPT.

Hailing India's emergence as an important global player and its role in crafting a new international order, the Spanish politician forcefully expressed unequivocal support of the European Parliament for India's claim to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

"We strongly support India's claim for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. We think such a big democracy can play an important role in creating a multilateral world," the 59-year-old leader said.

"We can't imagine a new world order without India. We need a multi-polar world. You need several poles to firm up the new world order and India is one of them," he underlined.

A firm believer in cross-cultural dialogue and popular contacts among different nationalities, Fontelles made a strong pitch for enhanced interaction among parliamentarians of India and the EU.

"Parliaments can play an important role in promoting understanding and deepening strategic partnership between India and the EU. More cooperation between parliaments will strengthen relations between people of the two sides," he said.

The India-EU summit, scheduled for Helsinki October 13, will give a new impetus and substance to strategic partnership and accelerate economic and trade ties between the two sides, Fontelles stressed.

Relations between India and the EU, encompassing diverse areas including energy, trade, science and technology, have been growing ever since the strategic partnership was launched at the India-EU summit in The Hague two years ago.

The EU continues to be India's largest trading partner. Trade between the EU and India was estimated to be over $35 billion in 2004.

His first passage to India, that included trips to Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram, was replete with illuminations and discoveries.

"A first glance at India is very impressive. It is the world's largest democracy and a model of multi-cultural, multi-lingual society. India is one of the most important powers in IT and one can see a new energy and confidence everywhere," he said.

First Published: Oct 06, 2006 10:10 IST