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Australia to send team to India on US nuclear deal

Written by: Staff
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SYDNEY, Mar 17 (Reuters) Australia will send a team of officials to India to find out more about a deal with the United States on nuclear energy, but said today there would be no immediate change in its policy on uranium sales.

Under the deal agreed earlier this month, India is to receive US nuclear technology in return for separating its military and civil facilities and opening the civilian plants to international inspections.

India wants to buy uranium from Australia, which has more than 40 percent of the world's known reserves of the mineral. But Canberra maintains it will not sell to countries, such as India, that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

''We will be sending a team of officials to India to get some more information about the agreement and that group will then go on to the United States,'' Prime Minister John Howard told a news conference with visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

''There isn't going to be an immediate change in government policy. Obviously, like all policies you never say never,'' he said.

Rice said yesterday that Washington will not push Australia to supply uranium to India after its landmark civilian nuclear energy deal.

REUTERS SK RAI0716

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