Australia and India explore ways to facilitate flow of uranium

NEW DELHI (India) — Australia and India are set to explore ways for early conclusion of the Administrative Arrangements on civil nuclear cooperation to facilitate the flow of uranium amid Australian assurances that they may conclude by this year end.

The details of the civil nuclear supply deal is to be discussed during the recent three-day visit by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop aimed at consolidating economic and defence agreements made in recent months. Australian government hopes the landmark deal, which coincides with India’s move to diversify its defence supply relationships, will also lead to co-operation in the key area of marine surveillance.

The Australian government is hoping the current visit will cement the budding bilateral relationship following reciprocal state visits late last year by Tony Abbott and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who have committed to finalising the long-running Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement this year.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held extensive talks with her Australian counterpart Julia Bishop during her visit to India.

The 10th India-Australia Foreign Ministers Framework Dialogue was held in a “friendly and cooperative atmosphere with exchange of views on all focus areas of interest”, an External Affairs Ministry release said.

Recognising the importance of finalising a mutually beneficial free trade pact, the ministers encouraged strong business links and highlighted the role of the CEOs’ Forum and Make in India Show to be held in Australia later in the year.

“They also explored ways for an early conclusion of the Administrative Arrangements on civil nuclear cooperation to facilitate the flow of Uranium,” it said.

Australia holds about a third of the world’s recoverable uranium resources, and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes a year. The nuclear pact under which Canberra will supply uranium was signed after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott here last September.

The two sides also expressed satisfaction with ongoing cooperation in defence and security and discussed measures to further enhance regional cooperation in view of recent developments in the Asia-Pacific region.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, in talks with her Australian counterpart Julia Bishop, also raised the killing of an Indian woman IT professional in a Sydney suburb last month. To this the visiting minister assured that the perpetrators of the fatal knife attack will be brought to justice. According to officials, Bishop told Swaraj that a special task force has been set up to investigate the matter.

Bishop also invited Swaraj to visit Australia which was accepted by the Indian minister.

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