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During his meeting with the French President, Dr Singh said India and France were strategic partners with a very rewarding defence cooperation. "We are going to build on that," he promised.

The prime minister said India has a strategic partnership with the European Union, of which France is an important member. India held President Chirac in the highest esteem, Dr Singh added.

Before his meeting with Chirac, Dr Singh told the French newspaper Le Figaro 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 needs.

Prime Minister Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur with French Defence Minister Michele Alliot Marie at the airport on there arrival on Sunday.

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