Revival of French nuclear deal?

A last-minute announcement that Pakistan President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq's current European tour will include a visit to France has aroused speculation he will discuss the revival of a six-year-old nuclear deal with Paris.

President Zia's one-day stop in France on January 25, which was announced only on the eve of his departure for Europe has intrigued many diplomats because of the mystery surrounding the visit.

At an airport press conference before departing, President Zia made a non-committal reply when asked if the deal for the supply of a nuclear processing plant would be discussed in Paris.

''We'll see,'' he said.

In 1976, France was set to supply Pakistan with a nuclear processing plant which would have enabled Pakistan to extract weapons-grade plutonium. But under US pressure, France backed out of the deal because the plutonium could be used for making a bomb. President Carter cut off military and economic aid to Pakistan in 1979 because he did not believe Pakistan's nuclear program was purely for peaceful purposes. The US Congress recently resumed aid with a $3.2 billion package - with the condition that it will be suspended if Pakistan explodes a nuclear device.

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