Rudd stands firm on not selling uranium to India

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New Delhi, Nov.12 (ANI): Visiting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made it clear that he will not buckle on Australia's refusal to sell uranium to India just hours ahead of a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Rudd told reporters here this morning that India's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty meant Australian would not sell it uranium, even though it had helped the Indian Government obtain materials to support its nuclear program through the Nuclear Suppliers Group - an international grouping of nations supplying nuclear technology and resources which seeks to contribute to non-proliferation.

According to The Australian, India has long sought access to Australian uranium ore to meet the energy needs of its rapidly growing economy.

Australia maintains a blanket ban in selling uranium to nations that refuse to sign the NPT Treaty.

This morning Rudd said the United States, Australian and other nations had worked together in recent years through the international Nuclear Suppliers Group to ensure India could access "the supply of inputs to its own nuclear program".

"We also worked in close concert with other nations from around the world, some of whom had profound reservations about that action," Mr Rudd said.

"On the question of bilateral uranium sales, can I say that our policy remains governed by the provisions of the non-proliferation treaty that has been the case in the past.

"The non-proliferation treaty and our policy in relation to it as underpinning our attitude to uranium sales is not targeted at any individual country. It has been longstanding Australian Government policy."

Rudd, who arrived in India last night after an unannounced visit to Australian troops in Afghanistan, will meet Singh this evening.

A key focus of the trip is easing Indian concern about a recent spate of attacks on Indian students studying in Australia, which threatens the future of Australia's lucrative education export industry.

The issue, fanned by Indian television coverage, had led to the burning of effigies of Rudd in India earlier this year. (ANI)

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