Monday, February 27, 2006

India talking with France and the US

Prior to US President’s visit to India and Pakistan from March 1 to 3, French President Jacques Chirac and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met in New Delhi to develop political and economic cooperation on February 20. Issues ranged from bilateral business, UN Security Council seat, and nuclear deal. At present, the EU influence in decline because India gets more attention from all over the world. In order to roll back, President Chirac showed some generous offers to India. In economic issues, France sold Airbus planes to Air India. Further cooperation was discussed to forge bilateral business partnerships, from infrastructure, IT, pharmaceuticals, environment, advanced and new technologies, food processing, automobiles to aeronautics. Also, France declared that it supports India’s bid for permanent seat at UN Security Council.

Among the above issues, the most vital one is the nuclear deal. France will assist civilian nuclear development in India under IAEA safeguards. Actually, the United States made a similar deal with India last July as I mentioned in previous posts “India, the country you should not miss! “ and “US Pressure on the Indo-Iranian Pipeline.” While France stresses they are more experienced to build nuclear facilities than the US, Indians pay more attention to forthcoming summit with US President George W. Bush.

For India, strategic partnership with America is the key to its foreign policy in the 21st century. Also, France can build nuclear plants only if India and the United States reach the final agreement. Nuclear non-proliferation is a vital security issue these days, and France cannot go it alone.

Will the United States and India reach full agreement on nuclear issues? Goerge Perkovich, Vice President at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, raises the following concerns.

• The strategy is distorted by the Administration’s desire to balance Chinese military power in Asia and the Indian government’s obsession with nuclear energy
• U.S. nonproliferation interests will not be best served unless changes in the deal are made during implementation
• The Bush Administration proposal gives India too much without getting much in return.

I will write a post on Indo-American nuclear talks after the summit. How things will go on? You cannot miss!

by Shah Alex