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Help lift N-curbs on India: Singh tells France

By A Correspondent in Paris
Last updated on: September 12, 2005 14:09 IST
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Ahead of Monday's meetings with French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, Prime Minister Mammohan Singh told Le Figaro newspaper that "restrictive regimes" like the Nuclear Supplies Group -- a consortium of 44 nations -- must go.

The group has denied India nuclear reactors and fuel for its civilian nuclear energy.

"Once the restrictions [on India importing civilian nuclear reactors] are lifted, there will be possibilities for India to import reactors from countries like France," Singh said.

Asked about the concessions that India was willing to make -- United States under secretary of state Nicholas Burns had mentioned a to-do list for India under the July 18 nuclear agreement between US President George Bush and Singh -- the prime minister said, "We fulfill the majority of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's conditions" like a unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests.

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"Nobody can accuse India of having contributed to the proliferation of sensitive technologies. In addition, by contributing to the fight against proliferation, India will help widen the gap between the threat of the link between international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction."

Another point raised by Le Figaro was over the exemptions given to India resulting in the non-proliferation regime being compromised, with Pakistan already asking for parity in treatment. Pointing out that India is a democracy that works well with a political system that offers sufficient guarantees for keeping out commitments, Singh said, "There is no risk that the help given to India's civil nuclear programme would bring prejudice to anyone."

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Asked if the growing defence ties between the US and India could prejudice its long-standing relations with France, Singh said, "Our defence programmes are based on the principle of tenders. I have no reason to think that the relations with France will be affected. French competences in defence matters are well known; you are at the frontiers of knowhow and technology."

On India-Pakistan relations, the prime minister said, "We have always favoured a policy oriented on the willingness of the people, and multiplication of exchanges between the Indian and Pakistani populations. We are working to put into place other liaisons."

'India not model nuclear state'

Ahead of the United Nations World Summit later this week, Prime Minister Singh told Le Figaro that development cannot be simply imported, and the international environment must support the aspirations of developing countries.

"It must favour exchange of trade, investment, transfers of technology, and put into place an equitable regime concerning intellectual property rights."

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A Correspondent in Paris