* Sarkozy wants India-style nuclear deal for Pakistan
* Pakistan rejects safety concerns over its nuclear arsenal
By Francois Murphy
PARIS, May 15 French President Nicolas Sarkozy
told his Pakistani counterpart he wanted the Muslim country to
have a wide-ranging deal to buy nuclear equipment like the one
obtained by its rival India, Pakistan said on Friday.
Such a suggestion would cause uproar in the international
community because a Pakistani scientist was at the centre of the
world's biggest nuclear proliferation scandal, raising fears
that sensitive technology could leak out once again.
"France has agreed to transfer civilian nuclear technology
to Pakistan ... They have agreed that Pakistan should be treated
like India," Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi
told reporters after his country's president met Sarkozy.
"President Sarkozy said, and I quote him, 'What can be done
for India can be done for Pakistan as well.' This is a major
development," Qureshi said after the meeting in Paris between
Sarkozy and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
An official in Sarkozy's office said France wanted Pakistan
to improve its nuclear security but did not comment on the idea
of an India-style deal.
"The president confirmed that we are prepared ... to
cooperate with Pakistan in the area of nuclear safety," he said.
The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which was created
after India tested its first nuclear weapon in 1974 and seeks to
prevent nuclear technology from falling into the wrong hands,
agreed in September to lift a ban on nuclear trade with India.
The waiver, which was won after years of lobbying by the
United States, paved the way for a U.S.-India nuclear deal under
which India can receive sensitive nuclear technology even though
it has not signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Supporters of the deal say that it will help meet India's
booming electricity needs, but its critics say it gives India
all the benefits of NPT membership but hardly any of the
obligations, and rewards it for developing the atom bomb.
Qureshi dismissed concerns about the safety of Pakistan's
nuclear arsenal and its proliferation history. Like India,
Pakistan has also not signed up to the NPT.
"We will assure the world that we are an important and a
responsible nuclear power and we can handle these matters
without threatening or endangering anyone," he said.
Scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered by many Pakistanis as
the father of the country's nuclear bomb, confessed to selling
nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya in 2004.
He was pardoned at the time by the government, and put under
house arrest, but Pakistan's High Court declared Kahn free in
February, ending his five-year confinement.
Pakistan has never given the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the
International Atomic Energy Agency, direct access to Khan.
"Pakistan has no issues with the IAEA. We are willing to
give international guarantees. We want the world to feel secure,
and Pakistan will give all necessary guarantees," Qureshi said
when asked about the feasibility of a Pakistani nuclear deal.
(Editing by Jon Boyle)