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India, Australia talks for agreement on uranium supply to begin in March

Posted on Jan 21, 07:29PM | UNI

India will soon have Australian uranium for its nuclear power plant as the two countries today decided to start formal negotiations for an agreement on the civil nuclear energy cooperation here in March.

The announcement was made by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and visiting Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr here after bilateral talks.

India had been supported by Australia in the exemption given by Nuclear Suppliers' Group(NSG) in 2008 following its civil nuclear cooperation deal with the US.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her visit to India last year had appreciated the country's non-proliferation record and expressed the hope that India would join the four global export control regimes including the NSG.

In a joint interaction with the media after today's talks, Mr Khurshid and Mr Carr said the negotiations on a Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement would be led by Ministry of External Affairs of India and the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and would commence in March.

Replying to a question on any time frame for concluding the negotiations, Mr Khurshid said, ''there was a sense of urgency in the matter. These are very important negotiations... we would like to complete it swiftly.'' The External Affairs Minister sought to stress that Australia had to make a very important contribution to the civil nuclear energy programme of India.

Mr Carr said, ''Australia and India officials will be working to conclude the agreement which will enable export of uranium to India.''