In what would be a shot in the arm to India’s nuclear ambitions, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who is on a three-day visit to India, said that a framework is being created to facilitate negotiations for the supply of uranium to India. It is expected to be in place by the end of this year.
In September, 2014, India and Australia had signed an agreement for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, but administrative arrangements to conduct uranium sales to India are yet to be completed. Officials from both countries are scheduled to meet again next week to conclude the agreement, which would then be ratified by the Australian government.
Ms Bishop spoke of Australia’s excitement over India’s entry in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). She affirmed that India is viewed as a trusted and reliable user of nuclear energy and that the Australian government is very keen to get the agreement ratified by the Parliament.
Ms Bishop is expecting that the process shall be completed by the end of the year. She refuted any disengagement in the nuclear deal with India, saying that India had signed similar agreements with the US and Canada. Ahead of her meeting with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, she said that, “we are not going to allow the agreement (for civil nuclear cooperation with India) to fail for lack of creative thinking.”
During her stay to India, Ms Bishop is also scheduled to meet India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar. In her meeting with Mr Jaitley, she will discuss about implementation of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) by the end of 2015. Referring to CECA, she said it was on the priority list of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot as well as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Australia is keen to expedite the agreement, considering India’s bilateral annual trade has fallen to $15 billion, a 14% drop from the previous year.
During her meeting with India’s Defense Minister, Ms Bishop will discuss security cooperation and engagement in more high level defense related bilateral visits each year. Both nations will also hold their bilateral navel exercise this year as part of the new framework for security cooperation created during Mr Modi’s visit to Australia.
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