Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his newly-elected Australian counterpart Tony Abbott on Thursday decided to step up their strategic cooperation with both sides hoping to see early closure of negotiations on a civil nuclear agreement for supply of uranium.
Meeting for the first time on the sidelines of the 8th East Asian summit in Brunei on Wednesday, the two leaders also agreed to push for the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) that would include coverage of investment and trade in goods and services.
There have been so far two rounds of negotiations on the nuclear agreement, which once finalised will create a framework for the sale of uranium.
During the meeting, Abbott recalled his three-month stay at Daltonganj, Hazaribagh and Bokaro in erstwhile Bihar in 1981.
In another bilateral meeting with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Singh discussed various issues of strategic importance and cooperation in areas such as Delhi Metro, Delhi Mumbai industrial corridor and defence security cooperation.
Earlier at the 8th East Asian summit (EAS), Singh pushed for a regional maritime code of conduct in South China Sea that could help avert armed clashes in the disputed waters.
“A stable maritime environment is essential to realize our collective regional aspirations. We should reaffirm the principles of maritime security, including the right of passage and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with international law, and peaceful settlement of maritime disputes,” he said.
Eight out of the 18 East Asian countries also signed memorandum of understanding on establishment of Nalanda university as an international institute. Apart from India, Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, New Zealand and Singapore signed the MoU. China too has shown the interest and could sign the MoU during Singh’s forthcoming visit to Beijing.
As part of India’s Look East policy and greater engagement with ASEAN, Singh announced setting up a permanent mission in Jakarta and a separate ambassador for the 10-member grouping.