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Australia: No N-fuel for India

March 16, 2006 14:48 IST
India has failed to persuade Australia to supply it with nuclear fuel as Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today made it clear that Canberra's policy of not supplying uranium to those not signatories to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty would not be changed.

"We do not have any plans to change our policy," he said in Sydney at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who stated that it was up to Australia to decide whether to supply uranium to India and that it was an issue that America should not be involved in.

India should fulfill N-deal obligations: US

During his recent visit to India, Australian Prime Minister John Howard had indicated a softening of  Canberra's stand as the two countries decided to set up a group of officials to study the Indo-US Civil nuclear deal. Australia is the second largest uranium producer after Canada.

Howard had said Australia viewed the Indo-US nuclear deal positively and wanted to know more details of the agreement.

"I appreciate that the Australian government... has said that they think the deal itself is a good deal," Rice said. "I think the issue of whether or not one agrees to participate in fuel supplies is a quite separable issue and

is one for the Australians to determine. It's not one that is at issue with the United States by any means," she said.

Noting that the US wanted a deep relationship with a rising democracy like India, Rice said the Indo-US nuclear deal would strengthen global security. "India is a rising power in Asia... and we need a broad and deep relationship with this rising democracy."

Won't sell uranium to India: Australia

Supporting the Indo-US nuclear deal, Downer said Australia "agrees with the broader arguments about the growing importance of India particularly at the world's largest democracy."

However, he said that the country has "legal issues" pertaining to selling uranium to India. It would have been better if India had signed the NPT but "that is a dream, that is not going to happen any time soon, if ever," he said.

On receiving the nod from the Congress, Rice said US would share its nuclear know-how and fuel with India to help power its fast-growing economy.

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