Foreign Minister Mukherjee concludes visit to Australia

June 24th, 2008 - 6:07 pm ICT by ANI  

Melbourne , June 24 (ANI): Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee concluded his first visit to Australia on Tuesday and left for New Delhi after Mukherjee and his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith signed extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties.

The two sides also reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral ties and agreed to further strengthen their relationship by forming a new body to hold yearly talks.

They also agreed to strengthen their strategic security and counter-terrorism cooperation by signing treaties to increase anti-terror efforts.

However, talks on possible sale of uranium to India were unsuccessful.

On the export of uranium, Smith said the Labour Party was opposed to the sale of uranium to New Delhi as India was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Australia said that it would consider uranium sales to India if New Delhi was able to strike a landmark nuclear pact with the United States and satisfy international safeguards concerns.

Australia has 40 per cent of the world’s known reserves of uranium and exports to 36 countries. India has been lobbying Canberra for access to it.

India and Australia had a two-way trade worth 10 billion dollars in 2007, mostly in gold and coal exports from Australia .

Mukherjee said yesterday that a report into a free trade pact would be completed by December. Both nations were also working to lift Australian resource exports to India , he said.

Mukherjee also met the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and visited Parliament yesterday. (ANI)

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