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France [Images] on Monday agreed to fully cooperate with India in the field of civilian nuclear energy.
The assurance came during the one and a half hour meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and French President Jacques Chirac at the latter's official resident, Elysee Palace.
The two sides also agreed on a framework agreement on defence cooperation, and the prime minister conveyed India's decision to purchase the advanced Scorpene submarines, the process and technology transfer for which would begin immediately.
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While the final cost of the deal was not disclosed, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said France had agreed to a reduction in cost escalation.
While Singh was assisted by National Security Advisor M K Narayanan in the talks, Chirac was accompanied by his diplomatic advisor. The talks continued over lunch, with senior members of both sides joining.
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Chirac also agreed to visit India on February 20-21, 2006.
The two countries have also agreed to strengthen their cooperation in dealing with global challenges and work together in the fight against terrorism, prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promote equitable development.
France also reaffirmed its support for India's bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
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While there was no mention of France supplying fuel for the Tarapur nuclear power plant, France has agreed to work with the Nuclear Suppliers Group, of which it is a member, in lifting the various restrictions placed on India, and to cooperate in changing the regime.
Ahead of the meeting with Chirac, Singh hosted French CEOs for at the Ritz Hotel for over two hours, and held wide ranging talks with them.
According to prime minister's media advisor Dr Sanjay Baru, Louis Schweizer, chairman of Medef International, was so impressed by the prime minister's 'precision and openness of answers,' that he said French confidence in India's future has increased.
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