India, Australia agree to launch negotiations for civil nuke pact

Thursday, October 18, 2012
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (right) with
his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard (left) at a joint
 press conference in New Delhi
New Delhi: Continuing the economic relationship, India and Australia on Wednesday decided to launch negotiations for civil nuclear pact.

The decision was taken during talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard.

Julia Gillard met Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on her first official visit to the country. In their meetings the two leaders also agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level to launch a Ministerial-level Dialogue on Energy Security, start negotiations for an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons, apart from inking four pacts.

The talks is crucial in the sense that it could pave the way for Australia to export Uranium to India in order to fill the needs of nuclear energy and importantly for the various prospective nuclear project across the nation, as India needs the uranium for its expanding civil nuclear power programme.

India and Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) after which Manmhan Singh said, “I have no doubt that our understandings, as reflected also in the agreements that have just been signed, herald a phase of more intense and structured cooperation between our two countries.”

Under Prime Minister Gillard, the Australian Labour Party has articulated a new policy on uranium sales to India. This is recognition of India’s energy needs as well as of our record and credentials.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed India’s appreciation of development to Prime Minister Gillard, as after the talks both the nations also agreed to begin negotiations for an Agreement on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation, which will precede actual cooperation.

“There is great potential to further strengthen India-Australia bilateral trade and investment relations, which continue to show robust growth; our bilateral trade in goods was US$ 17.4 billion in 2011-12, while India’s investments in Australia are at almost US$ 11 billion,” said a release quoting Manmohan Singh’s statement.
India will also develop wide-ranging cooperation in defence and security issues, including the fight against terrorism.

“We are also developing wide-ranging cooperation in defence and security issues, including the fight against terrorism, in all of which we regard Australia as an important partner,” Mr. Singh told reporters.

“This visit by Prime Minister Gillard is bound to open a new chapter in India-Australia relations. We look forward to the further strengthening, deepening and widening of these relations,” he added.

The four MoUs inked in the presence of the two Prime Ministers included cooperation in the field of wool and woollen products, cooperation in student mobility and welfare and cooperation in civil space science, technology and education.

Uranium exports would boost a commercial relationship that has seen bilateral trade grow at 13 percent annually in the past five years. Australia is already the biggest supplier of coal to India, which relies on the fuel for just over half its total power generation.
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