Oz not moved by India''s repeated pleas on uranium

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Natasha Chaku

Melbourne, Jan 20 (PTI) Refusing to take Australia''s noas an answer to India''s plea for sale of uranium, ExternalAffairs Minister S M Krishna today pleaded without success fora change in that position.

Krishna raised the issue of uranium sale with Australiafor the second consecutive day during his meeting with hiscounterpart Kevin Rudd who, however, said that his country''sstand remains unchanged.

The External Affairs minister had yesterday taken up thematter with Australia''s Resource, Energy and Tourism MinisterMartin Ferguson.

Rudd acknowledged India''s clean record on nuclearproliferation, but maintained it was Australia''s nationalpolicy not to sell uranium to NPT non-signatories.

"Australia fundamentally respects India''s long standingcredentials on the non-proliferation question," he said.

Addressing a joint press conference here with Krishna,Rudd acknowledged that India has not been responsible for asingle act of nuclear weapons proliferation anywhere in theworld.

"Something which we place on record again as being ourviews of India''s public policy posture and operationalbehaviour for a very long period of time," he said.

Australia is unwilling to sell uranium to India becauseit has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Rudd said the issue, however, has not damaged tiesbetween the countries.

"However, Australia''s stands on NPT remains. We continueto discuss these matters as friends do," he said, emphasisingon the strategic partnership that the two countries shared.

"There is a huge amount underway in the Australia-Indiarelationship at the political, security and economic levels...

There''s sufficient ballast in this relationship to deal withareas of periodic disagreement as there are in allrelationships," he said.

Commenting on the issue, Krishna said he has pleadedwith the Australian government to change the policy, stressingthat nuclear energy as a clean energy source was crucial tothe rising energy demands of India.

"If you have to have clean energy, then according toIndia the only option is to have nuclear energy, and if youhave to have nuclear energy, then you certainly need uranium,"he said.

On the question of the security of Indian students inAustralia, Rudd gave his full assurance to his counterpart.

He said as the Foreign Minister he takes the issue ofsecurity of any guests, including international students,"fundamentally and seriously."

"I take the responsibility and that is our job," hesaid after the seventh ministerial dialogue with Krishna. PTINC WAJ AKJ

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