Oz Foreign Minister says uranium sales policy won't affect ties with India

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Melbourne, Jan 20 : Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has expressed his confidence that the Kevin Rudd Government's policy on uranium sales won't harm efforts of his government to boost relationship with India.

"Australia's relationship with India and further progress in that relationship does not depend on uranium sales," said Smith, adding, "India is aware of the government's policy to supply uranium only to countries which are members of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty."

On January 15, Smith had made it clear that his government will not sell uranium to India, as it is not a member of the global non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

The John Howard Government's was willing to back India in the international forum, but the Labour Government is still considering its position.

"The Australian Government has not come to a concluded view on (this matter)," The Australian Quoted Smith, as saying.

"We will give consideration to those matters and will do that in an orderly way, having listened to the views of the Indian Government ... (and) the United States Government," he added.

On Tuesday, Smith had conveyed Shyam Saran, a special envoy of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, "We would not export uranium to nation states who are not members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." Saran was appointed as Manmohan Singh's special envoy to garner support for the Indo-U.S. bilateral agreement among the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that includes Australia. Uranium-rich Australia, which has 40 per cent of the world's yellowcake supplies, is an important member of the NSG.

Last year, Saran managed to convince the John Howard Government to end a ban on uranium sales to India, overturning a policy of selling the fuel only to NPT signatories.

ANI

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