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Pak keen for a civil nuke cooperation with France: Zardari

Pakistan is keen on a "serious and substantive engagement" with France in civil nuclear cooperation, President Asif Ali Zardari said today.

world Updated: Aug 03, 2010 12:33 IST

Pakistan is keen on a "serious and substantive engagement" with France in civil nuclear cooperation, President Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday.

Zardari, currently on an official visit to France, made the remarks during a meeting with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, an official statement said.

Zardari also called for the early establishment of a framework for a strategic dialogue between the two sides.

Pakistan has stepped up efforts to gain access to civil nuclear technology since its rival India concluded a landmark deal with the US a few years ago.

It has urged the world community to adopt a "non-discriminatory" approach in civil nuclear cooperation.

Zardari is on his second visit to France in 14 months and had raised the issue of civil nuclear cooperation during his last visit too.

During his talks with Sarkozy, Zardari sought the establishment of a ministerial-level Joint Economic Commission, aggressive support for preferential access to EU markets and parliamentary exchanges to deepen political understanding between the two countries.

The President also called for "massive international assistance" to help Pakistan cope with the situation arising out of floods that had washed away hundreds of villages and killed hundreds of people in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar quoted Zardari as saying that Pakistan attached great importance to ongoing defence cooperation with France, including the upgrade of Agosta submarines.

Zardari also stressed the need to further strengthen defence cooperation between the two countries.

Referring to Pakistan's campaign against militancy, Zardari said his government "had built political consensus and given ownership to the war against terror" even as the country paid a "huge cost in terms of human and material losses".

It was "unfortunate if some people continued to express doubts and misgivings about our will and determination to fight the militants to the finish", he said.

"Such misgivings will only undermine the international effort against militants and extremists," he said.

Pakistan's efforts and contributions have not been matched by international support, he added.

The meeting was also attended by Zardari's son and Pakistan People's Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir.

Zardari will meet Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner tomorrow before leaving France on Tuesday evening for a four-day visit to Britain, during which he will meet Prime Minister David Cameron.

First Published: Aug 03, 2010 12:32 IST