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Joint Statement issued on the occasion of the visit of President Jacques Chirac to India

February 20, 2006

President Jacques Chirac's visit to India today, closely following the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to France in September 2005 is a strong reflection of the commitment by both countries to take forward their Strategic Partnership by further strengthening bilateral cooperation in a wide range of fields including political, economic, defence, space, civil nuclear energy education and research.

Both sides have agreed to intensify the exchange of high level bilateral visits and consultations in the various areas of their interaction in order to further reinforce their comprehensive strategic partnership.

As India embarks on a period of rapid economic development, trade and investment relations with France are becoming more diverse. The two governments will make all efforts to increase the volume of investment and joint ventures in each other's countries and realize the great potential for enhanced business partnerships in the priority sectors identified by them in the Joint Statement of 12 September 2005. They will also work towards the continued robust growth of bilateral trade so as to reach the target of doubling bilateral trade within 5 years. Small and medium enterprises have an important role to play in this regard and the two governments have decided to take specific actions to enhance cooperation between enterprises, with a particular focus on SMEs.

The two governments would initiate a dialogue on the possible areas of cooperation in the field of Intellectual Property Rights.

Both sides recalled the Joint Statement of 12 September 2005 in which they had agreed to work towards conclusion of a bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation agreement. They emphasised that the Joint Declaration on Cooperation on Civil Nuclear Energy, issued today, is an important step forward in the realisation of that objective and in taking forward the longstanding Indo-France cooperation in the civil nuclear energy sector. They agreed to continue to work together towards the fulfillment of that objective.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at India joining as a full partner, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) nuclear fusion project.

France and India have also signed an Agreement on Defence cooperation. This is an important element of the Strategic Partnership between the two nations, building upon and expanding co-operation in the defence and military fields, defence industry, production, procurement, research and development of defence material, joint exercises, professional exchanges and training.

Indo-French cooperation in the Space sector has a long and successful history between two of the most advanced countries in this field. The recent successful launch of the INSAT 4A satellite by Ariane 5G from Kouru, French Guyana, is a testimony to the existing close cooperation. Work is also progressing well on the Megha Tropiques Joint Satellite Mission.

Both sides re-iterated the importance of the Strategic Partnership between India and the European Union and agreed to work together in further enhancing ties through the mechanism of the Joint India-EU Action Plan.

The President of France reiterated his country's firm support for India's candidature for permanent membership of the Security Council. India and France share common views on major international issues and call for the reform of the United Nations system to make it more representative and effective in meeting both traditional and non-traditional global challenges.

The Prime Minister of India welcomed the initiative of the President of France to broaden international consensus on innovative financing for development. India also welcomed France's decision to implement an air ticket solidarity contribution to support developing countries in their combat against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, including by the establishment of an international drug purchase facility in which their pharmaceutical industries could participate. India would study the modalities of such a levy and also participate in the Leading Group on Development Solidarity Levies to be established at the forthcoming Paris conference.

India and France strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, constituting, as it does, one of the most serious threats to international peace and security. There is a growing need to co-ordinate and intensify bilateral, regional and global co-operation to combat terrorism in a sustained and comprehensive manner. Linkages with illicit trafficking in drugs, small arms and narcotics and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have enhanced the destructive potential and lethal reach of terrorism. The Prime Minister of India and the President of France reaffirmed their commitment to work together in fighting terrorism and to make concerted efforts towards early conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

Both sides also reiterated their commitment to intensify co-operation in the fields of science and technology, educational, academic and cultural exchanges, tourism and other areas of mutual interest, where there is significant potential yet to be tapped. The Agreements and MOUs signed today reflect the wide range of bilateral interaction between India and France and will provide significant impetus to realizing the full potential of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

New Delhi
February 20, 2006


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