New Delhi: French president Nicholas Sarkozy arrived in New Delhi on Friday on a two-day visit, which, as he has stressed, will serve to boost strategic ties between the two countries. The French President has arrived at the invitation of the Indian government and will be the chief guest at the country's Republic Day parade and celebrations.
The minister of state for external affairs, Anand Sharma, received President Sarkozy, who leads a high profile delegation of six ministers, and about 60 top executives of French companies, at Palam airport.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh and Sarkozy held talks on a wide range of issues covering bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. The talks have resulted in the signing of five agreements between the two countries, including one for cooperation in the field of nuclear research.
The French Atomic Energy Commission and India's Department of Atomic Energy have signed the agreement regarding nuclear research, which involves the construction and operation of the Jules Hotowitz (JH) reactor. The French Atomic Commission, located at Cadarache in France, will build the reactor.
An MoU that will establish cooperation between the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research on the one hand, and GANIL on the other, regarding the use of spiral 2 high intensity beam production system, will be signed in Mumbai.
GANIL (Grand Accelerateur National d"Ions Lourds) is a heavy ion accelerator based at Caen in France.
Both countries have also agreed to intensify exchanges between their nuclear scientists, establish structures for training and undertake nuclear safety research.
In addition, the dialogue between nuclear safety authorities of respective countries will be reinforced, especially in the context of future industrial cooperation.
In the defence sector both sides agreed to take defence ties beyond the buyer-seller relationship and signed an agreement that will protect classified information on both sides.
They have decided to initiate detailed discussion on the Status of Forces Agreement between the two countries and have also agreed to intensify joint programmes and prospects in the defence industry, conduct joint research and facilitate transfer of technology.
A Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is an agreement between a country and a foreign nation that concerns the stationing of military forces in that country.
Agreements were also signed on transfer of sentenced prisoners and on India-French Development Cooperation through French Development Agency.
An MoU was also signed on establishing an International Associated Laboratory in the field of neuroscience.
The two sides will also issue a joint statement spelling out a "strategic roadmap" for future cooperation between the two countries.