India, Australia Launch Nuclear Talks

Posted October 17th, 2012 at 9:10 am (UTC-5)
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India and Australia have begun talks aimed at strengthening bilateral ties, including boosting nuclear cooperation.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is meeting with her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh Wednesday in New Delhi, on the third day of her visit to India.

The two leaders are set to launch negotiations on an agreement that will allow Australia to sell uranium to India, which already has signed such deals with the United States and France.

The deal would help supply energy-starved India with the fuel needed to run civilian nuclear plants, while giving a new market to Australia, the world's third largest uranium supplier.

Australia had previously ruled out selling uranium to India because the South Asian nation has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The issue had been a point of contention between the two countries.

Negotiations on a nuclear deal are expected to take at least a year.

At a reception with Mr. Singh Wednesday, Prime Minister Gillard hailed growing ties between Australia and India. She said “our interests are converging and that means our nations can work together to strengthen our economic partnership, to strengthen our strategic partnership and resolve issues that I would be speaking to Prime Minister Singh about later today.”

The Australian leader's visit is also aimed at boosting economic ties. Bilateral is trade worth about $20 billion and growing at 20 percent a year.