French foreign minister to hold talks next week

New Delhi: French foreign minister Alain Juppe arrives in India next week for talks focussing on the uncertain international financial situation and civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries. His visit comes ahead of the G20 summit of emerging and developed economies to be hosted by his country in early November.

Juppe will be here on a working visit on 20-21 Oct, during which he will hold talks with external affairs minister SM Krishna and call on prime minister Manmohan Singh, the French embassy said here Thursday.

The summit is expected to focus on reforms of the international financial institutions and a host of global issues, including the spreading economic crisis in Europe and the developed world.

The talks will also focus on bilateral civil nuclear cooperation between France and India and issues relating to India's civil nuclear liability regime, seen as burdensome by many countries, will also figure in these discussions.

The French minister is expected to assure his Indian interlocutors about stringent safety standards followed by French nuclear giants like Areva which is in the middle of discussions to build two 1,650 MW reactors in Jaitapur in western India. The Jaitapur nuclear park will eventually host as many as six reactors.

France was the first country to sign a bilateral civil nuclear accord with India September 2008 after the Nuclear Suppliers Group amended global rules of nuclear commerce in India's favour.