India, UK clinch N-deal agreement

London: India and Britain are set to significantly improve bilateral ties after announcing an understanding on civil nuclear cooperation and enhanced defence collaboration.

Lancaster House interior.  Image: NATO
Indian commerce and industry minister, Anand Sharma, announced the agreement after an hour-long meeting with British first secretary of state, Lord Peter Mandelson, at London's historic Lancaster House.

''We've negotiated. A text has been agreed and it'll be signed,'' said Sharma.

In turn, Mandelson stressed that this was ''a very, very significant advance.''

The civil nuclear agreement, however, can only be activated after Indian parliament legislates to allow private companies to participate in the nuclear power sector. New Delhi restricts nuclear collaboration to public sector entities. But, as in the United States, most potential British suppliers of nuclear technology are in the private sector.

This is in contrast to French and Russian firms, which are largely government owned.