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Asia-pacific

Sarkozy slams ‘unacceptable’ Pakistan on last leg of India visit

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-12-07

On his last stop on a four-day trip to India, French President Nicolas Sarkozy directly attacked Pakistan in a speech concerning the 2008 suicide bombings in Mumbai, branding Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts “unacceptable”.

AFP – French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned Pakistan on Tuesday for allowing extremist "safe havens" in its tribal border areas, as he paid tribute to the victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Sarkozy, in Mumbai on the last day of a four-day visit to India, said it was "unacceptable" that terror networks could find refuge in Pakistan and use it as a springboard to attack India, French troops in Afghanistan or other countries.

             
"It is unacceptable that India's security can be threatened by groups of terrorists acting from neighbouring countries," he said at the Oberoi hotel, one of the luxury hotels besieged by militants in November 2008.
             
"It is unacceptable for Afghanistan and for our troops that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda find safe haven in the border regions of Pakistan. We know the price that the Pakistani people are paying for terrorism.
             
"But it is unacceptable for the world that terrorist acts should be masterminded and carried out by terrorist groups in Pakistan...
             
"I call on all Pakistani authorities to step up their efforts and show that they are resolute in combating these criminals," he added, vowing that "there will be no limit to operational co-operation" in counter-terrorism with India.
             
Sarkozy, accompanied by his wife Carla Bruni, earlier placed a wreath at a memorial in the south of the city for 18 police officers who lost their lives in the carnage two years ago.
             
The wave of attacks, which also targeted a Jewish centre, a popular tourist restaurant and the city's main railway station, killed 166 people in all, including two French nationals, and injured more than 300.
             
The deadly assault has been likened in India to those on the United States on September 11, 2001 and was blamed on the banned, Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), with help from elements in Pakistan's military.
             
Seven suspects of the Mumbai attacks have been put on trial in Pakistan, including alleged mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, but none has been convicted.
             
In a 2009 cable from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, released by WikiLeaks this week, she alleges that Lakhvi kept running the LeT even while in prison in Pakistan awaiting trial.
             
Sarkozy's comments on Pakistan mirror similar pronouncements made by US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who have both visited India in recent months.
             
Pakistan's government says the country is a victim of terror as well and that it is doing all it can to combat extremism, including in the mountainous tribal border areas where its army has struggled to exert control.
             
Sarkozy's visit to Mumbai wraps up a trade-focused visit heavily weighted on nuclear and defence deals.
             
In an address to Indian and French business leaders later Tuesday, the president said inevitable comparisons would be made with Obama, who announced 10 billion dollars in trade deals with India.
             
But he said it was not about "totting up the contracts signed by Mr Obama and the amount of contracts signed by French companies".
             
"We haven't come here as salesmen simply looking for clients. We've come to find a new partnership... not for a few months or even a few years. It's a one-way street. We will never go back on it," he added.
             
"It's our deeply-held belief that nothing will be possible in this 21st century of ours if we don't have an equal partnership with India," he added.
             
Sarkozy and India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday unveiled plans for a 9.3-billion-dollar deal for France's Areva nuclear group to provide two reactors for a new plant in Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital.
             
The deal is short of a final sale contract but makes Areva a front-runner in the highly competitive race to sell nuclear technology to India, which wants atomic energy to supply a quarter of its electricity demands by 2050.
             
The United States and Japan are looking to increase civil nuclear cooperation, while Russia is already building two nuclear power plants in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
             
Sarkozy's office said deals worth 15 billion euros (20 billion dollars) have been or are about to be signed with Indian firms, including a lease for 14 Airbus planes and a contract to modernise 51 French-made Mirage fighter jets.

 

Date created : 2010-12-07

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