Australia’s stand on uranium not to strain ties: Smith

September 10th, 2008 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Sep 10 (IANS) Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith Wednesday said his country’s stand not to sell uranium to countries which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) would not strain relations with India.”Uranium is only one commodity, one small part but the relations between India and Australia cover a wide area,” he said.

The minister was talking to reporters after meeting Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and after visiting some IT companies here.

He said Australia respected India’s stand on NPT while New Delhi understand “our long-standing policy of not exporting uranium to any country which is not a signatory to NPT”.

Smith, who is on a week-long visit to India, will hold talks with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi Thursday.

He said the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver reflected the rise of India as a great power. “Australia was pleased to support the decisions taken in IAEA and NSG, which reflect rise of India as a great power.”

Australia, a member of the NSG, has 40 percent of the world’s known uranium reserves.

Smith said the relations and economic exchanges between Australia and India were very strong.

“We want to further encourage them and take the relations to a new level. We want to see India in the frontline of the international partnership,” he said.

The minister said Australia was for stronger economic ties with Andhra Pradesh and Hyderabad.

“There is a great potential for cooperation in the areas of construction, infrastructure, IT, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals,” he said.

Smith, who also visited the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) near here, said there was great potential for cooperation in agricultural research and minerals.

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