NEW DELHI: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in New Delhi on a three-day state visit, has said she will open talks with energy-hungry India over selling uranium for civil nuclear use.
Australia had previously ruled out exporting uranium to India as it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but Gillard reversed the policy late last year in an effort to improve ties with one of Asia’s biggest emerging economies.
“I anticipate that I will have some discussions on uranium,” she said after landing in New Delhi on Monday.
“I formed the view as prime minister that it was appropriate for us to sell uranium to India, and that it had become an obstacle in our relationship that we were not.”
Gillard added any agreement with India would guarantee that the uranium would only be used for peaceful processes and in safe conditions, and that a deal would be overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“India has a national interest in making sure its nuclear programme is safe, and seen to be safe by the world,” she said.
Gillard will have meetings with business leaders and visit an education project in New Delhi on Tuesday before holding talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday.
Fast-growing India is a key trade partner for Australia and the two countries agreed in 2009 to upgrade their relationship to a “strategic partnership” involving greater security cooperation.
Australia already ships nuclear fuel to China, Japan, Taiwan and the United States but had refused to sell it to India.
India ended its status as a nuclear pariah when it entered into a civil nuclear agreement with the United States in 2005 that was approved by the IAEA.