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"Have faith in India and invest in a big way" - PM tells business leaders accompanying French President Jacques Chirac

New Delhi
February 20, 2006 

BRIGHT PROSPECTS FOR INDO-FRENCH COOPERATION IN NUCLEAR ENERGY

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh invited French business leaders accompanying French President Jacques Chirac to “have faith in India and invest in a big way”. He assured them that the Government was committed to making India an easier place to do business in. Dr Singh dubbed President Chirac’s visit as a “landmark visit” and expressed the hope that the various agreements signed would strengthen the bond between the two countries. The Prime Minister thanked President Chirac for bringing along with him such a “high powered business delegation”. Dr Singh said that the Government was focusing on the infrastructure sector and invited French companies to invest in India.

Representatives of top French companies told the Prime Minister that their experience in India was good and they were all encouraged to increase their investment in India. French companies evinced keen interest in investing in manufacturing, services and financial sectors. Some of the participants expressed their interest in India’s civilian nuclear programme.

The National Security Advisor, Mr M K Narayanan expressed the hope that the dialogue on civilian nuclear cooperation between India and members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, including France and the United States, would result in the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifting restrictions on India. He informed the gathering that French companies would be able to participate in feasibility studies to implement proposed projects for setting up 1000MW capacity nuclear power plants once the NSG restrictions are removed. He said that a French company was already engaged in pre-feasibility studies for a nuclear power plant to be located in Maharashtra.

The meeting was attended by over 25 top French business leaders and representatives of Indian business. Government representatives included finance minister P Chidambaram, commerce and industries minister Kamal Nath, telecom and IT minister Dayanidhi Maran, deputy chairman of Planning Commission, Montek Ahluwalia, and senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office and the ministry of external affairs.