Signed and Sealed

Scripting a new era in bilateral ties, India and France signed a landmark agreement on civil nuclear cooperation , that covers supply of reactors and atomic fuel, in the first concrete step to bring New Delhi back into the nuclear mainstream after 34 years of isolation.“We expect to finalise agreements with other European partners too on civil nuclear cooperation,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after holding talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace .France is the first country to open nuclear commerce with India after the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granted a waiver to New Delhi on September 6. The Indo-US nuclear deal is awaiting Congressional nod and an agreement on it between the two countries is expected to be inked soon. "Today we have added a new dimension to our strategic partnership by signing an inter-governmental agreement on civil nuclear cooperation,” Singh said after the Indo-France Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement was signed in the presence of the two leaders by Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.The agreement will form the basis of wide ranging bilateral cooperation from basic and applied research to full civil nuclear cooperation including reactors, fuel supplies, nuclear safety, radiation and environment protection and nuclear fuel cycle management.The atomic pact is one of three agreements signed during Singh’s 2-day visit to Paris. The other two relate to social security matters which will benefit Indian and French nationals staying in each other’s countries on short durations, and a long-term agreement on utilisation of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launch services.

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