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India to discuss sale of uranium from Australia

January 19, 2011 03:03 IST

India will raise the issue of supply of uranium from Australia during the three-day visit of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna from Wednesday, hopeful that Canberra will revisit its stated position of not supplying the yellow metal to non-NPT signatory countries.

Krishna, who is visiting that country to attend the seventh round of the framework dialogue with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd, is expected to discuss a host of bilateral, regional and global issues. Expressing hope that in near future Australia may review its earlier stand of not supplying uranium to non-NPT signatory countries, Joint Secretary (South) in Ministry of External Affairs Arun Goyal said the access to uranium is a core issue for the country.

Referring to Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese's remarks recently that there was no change in Australia's position of not selling uranium to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Goyal said India has made clear its interest to Australia and was hopeful that it will revisit its stated position.

Krishna is expected to raise the issue with Martin Ferguson, Minister for Tourism, Resources and Energy in Australian government. Terming energy cooperation between the two countries as one of vital component, ministry Spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said: "We are ready when the Australian friends are ready for furthering civil nuclear cooperation." The issue is also expected to figure during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Perth to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in October this year. Apart from discussing ways to further cooperation between the two countries in energy sector and business and trade, Krishna is likely to raise the issue of security of Indians in that country which comprise half-a-million population, the fourth largest immigrant community.

Expressing appreciation over the steps taken by the Australian government to ensure security of Indians, Prakash said government there has taken steps to "overcome or tackle" these issues to further safety of Indians. Noting that there has been a sharp drop of 30 per cent in the number of Indian students going to Australia, he said the number of students going to Australia dropped from 67,974 in 2009 to 42,447 last year.

Goyal, however, added that the attacks on Indians in recent past were not the only problems. The appreciation of the Australian Dollar recently has also made education very expensive in that country for those going for vocational courses. The two ministers are also expected to discuss a proposed free trade agreement for which a feasibility study has already been conducted and was with respective governments for consideration.

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