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Lift nuclear sanctions against India: PM

Ahead of talks with Chirac, Manmohan hinted that if sanctions are lifted India would buy nuclear reactors from France.

india Updated: Sep 14, 2005 12:22 IST

Ahead of his talks with President Jacques Chirac, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday urged France to play a major role in dismantling restrictive regimes imposed by Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) consisting of some 40 countries, which has denied India nuclear reactor and fuel for its civilian nuclear energy.

Reacting to the agreement he had signed in July with US President George W Bush, who had promised to work with the US Congress and NSG members to remove restrictions on transfer of technology to India in this field, Singh expressed the hope that France which has always "supported us in our aspirations in this respect" would play a major role to help India.

Singh, who is scheduled to meet Chirac later on Monday, indicated that if the restrictions are lifted India would import reactors from France. "France is eminently qualified to play this role," he told leading French daily Le Figaro in an interview published on Monday.

Asked what concession India was ready to make to fulfil the conditions of nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the Prime Minister pointed out that although New Delhi was not a member of NPT, it fulfilled the majority of its conditions. India has declared universal moratorium over nuclear tests and nobody could accuse it of having contributed to proliferation of sensitive technologies.

India was seeking international help only to develop its civil nuclear programme, which it was separating from its military nuclear programme. "In addition, by contributing to the fight against proliferation, India will help to widen the gap between the threat of the link between international terrorists and weapons of mass destruction," Manmohan said.

When the interviewer pointed out that Pakistan was already asking for the same exemption as given to India in this regard, the Prime Minister responded by underlining New Delhi's "irreproachable conduct" in non-proliferation matters and said that there was no risk that help given to India's civil nuclear programme could bring prejudice to anyone.

"I will make no more comments on other countries. India is a democracy that works well. Our political system offers sufficient guarantees ensuring that we keep our engagement," he told the newspaper.

About India's aspiration for UN Security Council permanent membership, Singh said that a large international consensus existed in its favour. He was grateful for the French support.

About Indo-French relations, Singh was of the view that the volume of trade exchanged and investment and also transfer of technology "are well short of their potential." At€1.51 billion, French exports to India represented less than 4.4 per cent of the total imports of the country.

India wish to develop its already "very close ties" with France in defence matters, but Paris must also help modernise Indian economy, he said, adding that French companies can play a role in the domains of energy, electricity, hydrocarbon, infrastructure, agri-business, pharmaceutical business and environment.

Responding to a question on the US attitude towards the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Singh said that developing countries must mobilise themselves to promote their own resources, but the international environment must support the aspirations of developing countries.

Three months ahead of the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong, the question of development has not been given enough consideration. "The rules of the intellectual property, those which are currently defined, permit private companies in developed countries to conserve well the technologies which cruelly bring shortcoming to developing countries who do not have the means to acquire them," Singh said.

On relations with Pakistan, he said India wants specific, friendly and good neighbourly relations with it. "We have favoured a policy oriented on the willingness of the peoples, and multiplication of exchanges between Indian and Pakistani people."

First Published: Sep 12, 2005 14:17 IST