Islamabad: Pakistan today reiterated its
proposal for a "serious and substantive engagement in civil
nuclear cooperation under the IAEA safeguards with France".
The issue was raised by President Asif Ali Zardari
during his meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard
Kouchner in Paris.
Zardari had raised the matter yesterday during talks
with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.
Pakistan was faced with a serious energy crisis and
it needs to "explore and exploit all sources of energy
including hydro, thermal, solar, wind and nuclear", Zardari
The two leaders agreed to set up Joint Commission to
undertake cooperative projects in food and agriculture,
economic development, security and training of nurses on a
large scale for export to European and Middle Eastern
The meeting of the Joint Commission, comprising four
representatives from each country, will be held alternately in
Islamabad and Paris and the first meeting will be held in
Islamabad by October.
France also agreed to expedite release of aid
committed under the Friends of Democratic Pakistan initiative
to help Pakistan in relief and rehabilitation works in the
wake of massive devastating floods.
Zardari said there was a need for regular bilateral
coordination between the foreign ministries of the two
countries on important multilateral issues and called for
assistance in flood relief and rehabilitation, setting up
income generating projects, improving health and education in
the tribal areas of Pakistan and opening of branches of French
banks in Pakistan.
Being a signatory to important international human
rights covenants and having ratified the Convention Against
Torture and suffered huge material and human losses during the
war against terror, Pakistan "more than qualified to be
allowed market access by the EU countries," Zardari said.
Zardari asked Kouchner to explore the possibility of
a debt swap arrangement.
Bilateral debt to France totalling 2.3 billion
dollars includes 845 million dollars of ODA and 1.49 billion
dollars of non-ODA assistance.
Issues related to the regional situation and
Afghanistan were also discussed during the meeting.
Zardari underlined the need for greater cooperation
in intelligence sharing between the two countries in the fight