India to discuss sale of uranium from Australia

New Delhi/Melbourne, Jan 18 (PTI) India will raise theissue of supply of uranium from Australia during the three-dayvisit of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna from tomorrow,hopeful that Canberra will revisit its stated position of notsupplying the yellow metal to non-NPT signatory countries.

Krishna, who is visiting that country to attend theseventh round of the framework dialogue with his Australiancounterpart Kevin Rudd, is expected to discuss a host ofbilateral, regional and global issues.

Expressing hope that in near future Australia mayreview its earlier stand of not supplying uranium to non-NPTsignatory countries, JS (South) in Ministry of ExternalAffairs Arun Goyal said the access to uranium is a core issuefor the country.

Referring to Australian High Commissioner PeterVarghese''s remarks recently that there was no change inAustralia''s position of not selling uranium to countries whichhave not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),Goyal said India has made clear its interest to Australia andwas hopeful that it will revisit its stated position.

Krishna is expected to raise the issue with MartinFerguson, Minister for Tourism, Resources and Energy inAustralian government.

Terming energy cooperation between the two countriesas one of vital component, ministry Spokesperson VishnuPrakash said: "We are ready when the Australian friends areready for furthering civil nuclear cooperation."

The issue is also expected to figure during PrimeMinister Manmohan Singh''s visit to Perth to attend theCommonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Octoberthis year.

Apart from discussing ways to further cooperationbetween the two countries in energy sector and business andtrade, Krishna is likely to raise the issue of security ofIndians in that country which comprise half-a-millionpopulation, the fourth largest immigrant community.

Expressing appreciation over the steps taken by theAustralian government to ensure security of Indians, Prakashsaid government there has taken steps to "overcome or tackle"these issues to further safety of Indians.

Noting that there has been a sharp drop of 30 per centin the number of Indian students going to Australia, he saidthe number of students going to Australia dropped from 67,974in 2009 to 42,447 last year.

Goyal, however, added that the attacks on Indians inrecent past were not the only problems. The appreciation ofthe Australian Dollar recently has also made education veryexpensive in that country for those going for vocationalcourses.

The two ministers are also expected to discuss aproposed free trade agreement for which a feasibility studyhas already been conducted and was with respective governmentsfor consideration.

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