India, France sign agreement to build 2 nuclear power plants

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India and France Monday inked a civil nuclear pact which will pave the way for construction of French nuke reactors in this country, besides four agreements for deeper bilateral cooperation in the atomic energy sector.

The agreements, including for construction of two 1,650 MW nuclear power reactors in the western state of Maharashtra, were signed between the two sides after delegation-level talks between visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.

"President Sarkozy's visit is fourth in a series of high-level exchanges between India and France in last three years. This reflects importance of the strategic partnership. Discussions were wide ranging and extremely productive," Prime Minister Singh told the media.

"We made significant progress on all issues. On nuclear energy, the negotiations have paved the way for nuclear reactors at Jaitapur. Several other agreements in nuclear areas such as research and training, nuclear safety, waste management have also been concluded," he said.

The prime minister also said France is "one of the most reliable defense partners" and "counter terror is significant area of cooperation where we are making good progress."

"Science and technology are emerging as new sources of growth that will drive relationship forward," he said.

President Sarkozy said that he has come "not simply to visit a major client, but a partner".

"The signing of the two EPRs (reactors) is just the beginning," said Sarkozy.

The French president also reiterated France's support for India 's bid for a membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, saying, " We support India to be part of any nuclear forum that it wishes to participate in."

India and France have plans to jointly set up six nuclear power plants of 1,650 MW each at Jaitapur in Maharashtra at an approximate cost of 25 billion U.S. dollars.

Agreements have been signed between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and French state nuclear company Areva for the construction of the first two nuclear power plants during the visit.

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