India, France sign nuclear power deal

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New Delhi: There are however, concerns about the huge costs involved in procuring the EPR nuclear reactors, which are yet untried. India and France will also collaborate on space technology and military hardware.

India and France signed a multibillion agreement on December 6 to build two nuclear power plants in India as French President Nicolas Sarkozy worked to drum up business for his nation during his four-day visit here.

Areva SA, one of France’s main nuclear power companies, will build two European pressurized reactors of 1,650 megawatts each at Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

The agreement, valued at about $9.3 billion, was signed in the presence of Sarkozy and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The deal marked the first two of 20 nuclear reactors the country wants to build to meet its soaring energy demand.

Sarkozy and Dr. Singh later met to discuss regional security, trade and investment.

The talks were also expected to touch on plans for the structural reform of the international monetary system through the Group of 20 countries, currently headed by France.

Sarkozy, who arrived on December 4, is accompanied by his Defense, Foreign and Finance Ministers and nearly 60 business leaders.

No defense agreements are expected during the visit, but Sarkozy is likely to push for French companies to win contracts to supply military hardware.

French companies are negotiating to upgrade 51 Mirage-2000 jet fighters in the Indian air force. India is also in the market to buy 126 fighter jets, a deal worth $11 billion, and about 200 helicopters worth another $4 billion.

According to defense experts, India is expected to spend $80 billion between 2012 and 2022 to upgrade its military.

India and France also pledged to double bilateral trade to euro 12 billion (about $16 billion) by 2012 by stepping up cooperation and investment in sectors like energy, water and infrastructure.

It said that France and India recognized the importance of agriculture and food processing sector for ensuring affordable food production in both the countries.

In his statement, Dr. Singh said India would work closely with France to push forward the global economic recovery and better regulation of                the international financial  sector.

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