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Now, an India-France nuke deal
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February 05, 2006 17:50 IST

India and France [Images] are likely to reach an understanding on civilian nuclear cooperation deal besides signing some defence agreements during the February 19-21 visit of President Jacques Chirac to Delhi.

The nuclear deal will be on the lines of the one signed by India and the US on July 18 last year, diplomatic sources told PTI.

"The groundwork for the deal has been done and if all goes well, it will be signed during Chirac's visit," they said.

The deal will involve separation of civilian and military nuclear establishments by India for which negotiations will be conducted by the two sides.

Ahead of Chirac's three-day visit, his special envoy Maurice Gourdault-Montagne was in Delhi last week to fine-tune the deal.

He met National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and some other officials to discuss various matters relating to the agreement.

The sources said evolving public opinion in favour of the agreement would not be difficult in France, unlike that of the US.

France has always had a favourable approach with regard to India's nuclear programme, the sources said, pointing out that even when New Delhi conducted nuclear tests in 1998,

Paris was mild in its criticism unlike all the Western powers.

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