We are prepared to give India uranium: Kazakhstan foreign minister (Interview)

October 16th, 2008 - 1:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghAstana, Oct 16 (IANS) Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Nurian Yermekbayev says his country is prepared to supply uranium to India to fuel its growing nuclear energy requirements.”We are waiting for a concrete proposal from India and are organising bilateral meetings at the highest level for the uranium supply trade,” Yermekbayev told IANS.

He said Kazakhstan supported the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver for nuclear business with India at its meeting in September.

“This was a friendly gesture towards India for its peaceful nuclear aspirations,” the minister said, adding that “the strategic and business relations (with India) are excellent and growing”.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet state that gained independence in 1991, has 15 percent of the world’s uranium reserves and is tipped to be an important prospective seller for India. Australia, which has the world’s largest uranium reserves, is restricted by its policy not to sell nuclear fuel to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The strategically located Central Asian country already supplies uranium to Japan and China.

India and Kazakhstan are discussing dates for a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, during which the uranium trade between the two countries is expected to be finalised.

Yermekbayev said the Kazakhstan president would be visiting India “sometime soon”.

“We are for the uranium trade with India as soon as it happens,” he said, adding that India and Kazakhstan shared a good strategic partnership and the uranium trade will have a positive impact on the growing cooperation between the two “friends”.

Yermekbayev said Astana was keen to further the successful strategic and business cooperation with the “growing Asian power”, adding his country was interested in developing ties with India in IT, space research, oil exploration and education sectors.

“You see, India has grown impressively in these sectors and we want its cooperation (to develop the same in Kazakhstan),” he said.

Expressing satisfaction with the business ties with India, the minister said last year trade between the two countries was $195 million “while as it has already crossed $130 million in the first half of this year”.

Highly “impressed” with Indian technology parks, the minister said: “We hope more and more Indian companies will invest here to enjoy tax waiver benefits in our 27 special economic zones (SEZs) coming up across the country.”

Asked if any Indian company was bidding for the development of Kazakh SEZs, he said: “Yes, but I cannot give you the names.”

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