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Europe

Climate, Security, Stability to Dominate EU-India Summit

Global warming, global security and the world-wide financial crisis are set to top the agenda when the European Union and India hold their annual summit in Marseille, France on Monday.

European Union and Indian flags

EU-India summits have become a regular event

According to the French government, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, the summit is set to agree an "action plan" on cooperation in peace and security issues, sustainable development, science and technology and "person-to-person contacts."

Sarkozy and Singh stand in a room surrounded by other people

Sarkozy and Singh met in New Delhi in January

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and top EU officials are also set to sign a deal paving the way for cooperation on civil aviation and discuss trade relations.

But according to a draft of the summit's final declaration seen by DPA news agency, the leaders are likely to spend more time on global woes such as climate change and financial instability.

The EU has already pledged to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2, the gas most closely associated with global warming) to at least 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and has urged developing powers to pledge their own cuts.

But while an earlier draft of the declaration said "the leaders agreed on the need to reduce global emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050," that phrase was omitted from the latest version, leaving only a pledge to "work towards ... a long-term global goal."

Financial crisis on the agenda

The global financial crisis is also set to dominate proceedings after Sarkozy on Tuesday called for a summit of world leaders before the end of the year to "draw the lessons" of the crisis.

The UN security council chamber during a session

India wants a permanent seat at the UN security council

The draft declaration, penned before Sarkozy's speech, says that the EU and India "discussed the pressing need to address the impact of current problems in the international financial sector" -- a message Monday's meeting is likely to reinforce.

In the same speech, Sarkozy called for the UN Security Council to be enlarged and for India, China, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil to join the Group of Eight leading industrial nations (G8).

Diplomats in Brussels said they expect Singh to raise the question of a permanent Security Council seat for India, but that the EU has no joint position on the issue.

Concerns about security

The summit is also set to discuss security problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iran's controversial nuclear program. The current draft expresses "deep concern" at the security situation on the Pakistan-Afghan border and stresses that the situation "requires sustained action by the government of Pakistan."

But it strikes out a call for Iran to "respect ... UN resolutions" on halting uranium enrichment, instead calling for more diplomatic efforts and a "central" role for the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.

EU officials say the bloc would like to discuss the possibility of opening trade in peaceful nuclear technology with India after the so-called Nuclear Suppliers' Group gave the green light to such trade in early September, but that the idea is at a "very early stage."

AI urges focus on human rights

A group of people holding candles and signs against the death penalty

Indians protest against an execution in 2004

Human rights group Amnesty International meanwhile urged EU officials to take India to task over the question of the death penalty and the alleged persecution of religious minorities.

Amnesty says that at least 140 people are believed to have been sentenced to death in India in 2006-7.

The EU should also "urge the government of India to take immediate action to halt the attacks on Christians" in the state of Orissa and, more generally, "discuss the wider persecution and discrimination against religious minorities," the letter said.

Diplomatic sources in Brussels said that while the EU and India hold a regular dialogue on human rights, the summit is more likely to focus on other issues.

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