India to develop stronger ties with Australia

indiaMELBOURNE: India and Australia will hold the third round of talks in the last week of November to expedite negotiations for finalizing a civil nuclear cooperation pact.

Civil nuclear cooperation and other key bilateral issues, including security and economic cooperation, were discussed between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in Perth yesterday.

“Ministers reaffirmed the commitment of both countries to finalize a Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement to enable the sale of Australian uranium to India and announced that the third round of negotiations would be held in Delhi in the week of November 25,” a statement on Australian Foreign Minister’s official website said.

If the two nations go ahead with the deal, India will be the first customer of Australia that is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Australia holds about a third of the world’s recoverable uranium resources, and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes a year.

“Advancing relations with India is a priority for the Australian Government,” Bishop said after holding bilateral talks with Khurshid.

“Our discussion followed very productive talks between Prime Minister Abbott and Prime Minister Singh at the annual Leaders’ Meeting in Brunei on October 10,” she said.

During their discussions, the two ministers discussed the importance of building a strategic relationship on energy security and indicated that the two sides were working to finalize the dates for the second ministerial meeting on energy security.

“Following the successful visit by Indian Defense Minister Antony to Australia in June, we also had good discussions on how to strengthen our security and strategic cooperation, including reviewing progress towards conducting a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015,” Bishop said.

The two leaders also discussed ways to enhance bilateral economic cooperation and work closely in areas of common priority.

“We agreed that conclusion of a high-quality Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement would underpin a further significant expansion of the trade and investment relationship to mutual benefit,” she said.

“I underlined Australia’s interest in working closely with India in the G20 on areas of common priority, including investment, financing, during Australia’s 2014 host year. -PTI

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