In an interview with The Hindu on the eve of his four-day visit to India from Saturday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy referred to India's civil liability for nuclear damage law and urged New Delhi to comply with relevant international rules enshrined in the Vienna Convention.

“Indian legislation must ensure that French and foreign industrialists, and Indian industrialists too, are able to work on civilian nuclear energy projects in India in the right conditions. This is imperative,” he said in a frank, occasionally pugnacious interview on a wide range of issues on the eve of his second visit to India in as many years.

Counter-terrorism, Afghanistan and especially the reform of the world's financial and economic institutions would be at “the heart of my discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” he noted.

Mr. Sarkozy, who assumed the presidency of the G-20 at the Seoul Summit in November, said he would focus on “the reform of the international monetary system, combating commodity price volatility and reforming global governance” which were essential for world stability and prosperity.

Referring to the threat of global terrorism, he said: “No lasting victory will be possible without the cooperation and total commitment of Pakistan. A stable, prosperous and democratic Pakistan is in the interest of India, France, [and] the whole world. No one is forcing Pakistan to be both the victim and the crucible of terrorism. And France has always said this in no uncertain terms. Since it is essential to eliminate the scourge of terrorism, France has stepped up its anti-terrorism cooperation with Pakistani authorities…”

The President, however, avoided replying directly to a question whether Pakistan remained a potential purchaser of arms, and if so what was in the pipeline. “Pakistan's priority is to combat terrorism, which takes its toll on the people of Pakistan…this is what is behind the cooperation between France and Pakistan in the area of security equipment.”

Asked whether, like U.S. President Obama, he saw his role as a CEO for France, he said: “Do I consider the development of our economic relations as a priority? Yes. Do I want French companies to win contracts and get ahead of their competitors on the Indian market? Of course, I do. And do I think it is my role as head of the French state to help them, to promote and foster French technology and knowhow? The answer is once again ‘yes.' But if you ask me whether the sole purpose of my visit is to sign contracts, whether I'm there as a “super salesman,” to use your words, I would say ‘no.' My ambition goes far beyond this. The relationship between France and India cannot be reduced to its economic dimension, fundamental as it is. India is, first and foremost, a major political partner, an indispensable power without which we cannot rise to the major challenges the world faces. And France will continue to be the first to champion India's place and role in the world and to ensure that they receive due recognition.”

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