Australian will conasider India's Nuclear request

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New Delhi, Jan 22 (UNI) Australia's new ruling Labor Party Government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will consider India's request for uranium supply, Australian High Commissioner to India John McCarthy, today said.

Speaking at a seminar on 'Australia's New Government and Asia' at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) here, Mr McCarthy said Indian Prime Minister's Special Envoy Shyam Saran, was in Australia last week for discussions on the issue.

''The new government is going to consider Indian position,'' he said but admitted that it was ''difficult'' for the government ''to change the policy.'' Mr McCarthy said there was a shift in the Australian nuclear policy after the Labor Party assumed power in the first week of December last year.

The Rudd Government had overturned the policy of former prime minister John Howarth who had promised India of uranium shipment.

Mr McCarthy said Uranium and LNG were the key promising areas for further strengthening economic cooperation between the two nations.

But as far as uranium was concerned, there was a big problem because of the long drawn, strong anti-proliferation policies of the Labor Party, he said.

The High Commissioner said he was aware that this policy of not supplying uranium to India would have its impact on the economic relations between the two countries. However, this should not be taken as a less liking or less respect for India, he said.

Explaining Australia's anti-proliferation policies, Mr McCarthy said the nuclear issue, uranium and nuclear power were always big issues in Australia and especially for the Labor Party.

Seeking to allay fears that the new government might shift its focus to China, Mr McCarthy said the new Prime Minister wanted to improve its relations with both India and China.

As far as Australia's two-way trade is concerned, India with 12 billion US dollars, is much below China (47 billion US dollars), Japan (48 billion US dollars) and US (44 billion dollars).

However, India (with over 10 billion US dollars) stands at the fourth place as far as the Australian exports of merchandise is concerned, he said and noted that with the dynamics changing and serious engagement at political level and strong economic relations, Indian and Australian relations could become much stronger.

The High Commissioner said there was also good scope for cooperation in the education sector, especially science and technology.

He said although Australia attracted the second largest number of Indian students after the US, most of the students were not going to the best Australian institutions.

Mr McCarthy said Australia's priority of fighting terrorism would continue and hence its sharpened forces in Afghanistan would remain there.

To a questin on the need to amend the NPT, Mr McCarthy said there was no such demand from Australia although rhere were such voices in the US, Europe and other countries.


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