Australia reiterates : No Uranium supply to non-NPT country

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New Delhi, Sep 11 (UNI) Australia today reiterated its puritanical ''long-standing'' policy of not supplying uranium to a non-NPT country, including India, and said the stand would not be affected by the decision of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

The 45-member nuclear cartel, in a consensus decision on September 6 in Vienna, removed all shackles on India for conducting nuclear commerce with the rest of the world.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, currently on a five-day visit to India, had said in Hyderabad yesterday also that his country's long-standing policy of not supplying uranium to a non-NPT country was well-known. He, however, said it would not affect relations with India.

Australia, an important member of the NSG, has about 40 per cent of world's uranium reserves.

''Australia's policy of not to supply uranium (to non-NPT) countries is long standing and well known and remains... This position remains unaffected by the NSG decision,'' he said here.

Mr Smith on a visit to India from September 8-12, visited Chennai on September 8-9 and Hyderabad on September 9-10.

He arrived here from Hyderabad today and gave a lecture at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA).

''The visit is intended to diversify and consolidate the traditionally warm and friendly relations between India and Australia... The visit underlines the desire of both sides to raise the level of bilateral relations to a significantly higher level,'' the External Affairs Ministry said here today.

This is Mr Smith's first visit to India, and a ''stand-alone visit,'' that follows External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Canberra in June for the fourth meeting of the Foreign Ministers' Framework Dialogue.

The last visit by an Australian Foreign Minister to India was in June 2005 by Mr Alexander Downer.

Mr Smith has already met the Governor and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in Chennai and the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and other Ministers of the Andhra Government in Hyderabad.

He will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and hold wide ranging talks on issues of mutual interest with the External Affairs Minister who will be hosting an official lunch for him.

Mr Smith will also call on Vice President Hamid Ansari and meet Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and National Security Adviser (NSA) M K Narayanan.

UNI RB MIR CS2037

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