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China says may sign uranium deal with Australia

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Mar 27 (Reuters) A Chinese Foreign Ministry official in charge of relations with Australia said the two sides may sign a uranium deal when Premier Wen Jiabao visits next month.

Energy-thirsty China plans to invest some 400 billion yuan in building around 30 nuclear reactors by 2020, bringing its installed nuclear capacity to 40 gigawatts.

''China and Australia are focused on peaceful nuclear goals,'' Liu Jieyi told reporters. He said both sides had been working on two agreements -- one a general agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear power and one a more specific deal on uranium ''exploration and exploitation''.

He said the agreements could be signed when Wen visited Australia in early April.

Liu, director general for American and Oceanic Affairs, said the agreements would make clear that both sides were ''willing to open up cooperation in this area'' and that any such cooperation would follow International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

Liu said Wen would be accompanied on his trip by Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and chief of the National Development and Reform Commission, Ma Kai, who is responsible for energy development.

''This cooperation is beneficial to both sides and to the world at large,'' Liu said, adding that it would help China meet its goal of becoming more energy efficient.

REUTERS SHB ND1338

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