President Nicolas Sarkozy urged India on Saturday to support France's agenda of reforming the global monetary system during its presidency of the G20 and hinted a nuclear deal could be signed on his trip.
The French president started his four-day visit in the southern technology hub of Bangalore. He leads a delegation of 50 senior businessmen as well as top cabinet officials, including Economy Minister Christine Lagarde.
He wants to push an ambitious agenda for the G20 group of developed and emerging nations, including reform of the international monetary system, improvements in global governance and greater stability in international commodity prices.
Please help us throughout this year to change this state of things (in the monetary system). We need you to regulate the international monetary order, he said, adding that the Indian rupee will one day count as a major global currency.
Sarkozy also asked for the support of Indian farmers to make the world understand that the price of agricultural or other raw materials cannot be regulated exclusively by speculation and change in an erratic way.
Sarkozy will meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday and has hinted at the progress of a multi-billion euro deal for the sale of two nuclear reactors to India.
SUPPORT FOR U.N. SEAT
French nuclear group Areva has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nuclear Power Corp of India (NPCIL) to supply at least two EPR water pressurized reactors, estimated at some 7 billion euros ($9.4 billion).
India has given the green light for construction and suggested a framework contract could be concluded during the visit.
In an interview published on Saturday by the Times of India, Sarkozy said discussions on the agreement were continuing and everything was being done for a deal to be reached during his time in India.
Areva is becoming a key partner for Indian nuclear energy, he said later in a speech given at the Indian space agency, the ISRO.
Sarkozy's trip to India, an emerging market star whose fast-developing power sector is of interes to foreign investors, comes soon after visits by U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao are due in India before the end of the year.
Sarkozy repeated France's support for India's longstanding demand to win a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, as Obama did in November, in acknowledgement of India's growing global clout.
French firms are also hoping to secure lucrative defense deals with India, including the sale of 126 fighter jets and a smaller contract for defense electronics group Thales to modernize 51 Mirage 2000 planes for India's air force. (Writing by Matthias Williams; editing by Ron Popeski)