Deal with China to have strict safeguards: Aus | india | Hindustan Times
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Deal with China to have strict safeguards: Aus

Australia will also offer the Asian powerhouse no special deals on investment in uranium projects.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2006 09:41 IST

Australia expects China to adhere to rigorous nuclear safeguards in return for uranium sales, Prime Minister John Howard said on Sunday.

Australia will also offer the Asian powerhouse no special deals on investment in uranium projects.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Australia late on Saturday for a visit during which he is expected to sign a deal paving the way for uranium exports to the communist giant.

Howard said China would be subject to the same laws as other countries in relation to the sale of uranium.

Australia holds 40 per cent of the world's reserves of uranium. It insists that nations wishing to purchase its uranium are signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and abide by strict safeguards.

Wen and Howard are expected to sign off on these safeguards after a meeting on Monday which follows months of negotiations.

"The safeguards that we have adopted are very rigorous and unless we are going to declare to the world that we're not going to deal with anybody, then ... in relation to uranium we have to assume a certain degree of good faith," Howard told a commercial television.

"China is wanting world acceptance in many ways," he said. "China sees herself as projecting influence and authority in the region. That's understandable given her size and I don't think she's going to lightly give up the fairly hard-won reputation that she's trying to get."

Howard said that any Chinese investment in uranium projects in Australia would be subject to scrutiny by foreign investment officials.

"We're not talking about having a special deal for Chinese acquisitions in Australia," he said.

"I'm not going to telegraph in advance, it would be improper to do that, I simply would say to our Chinese friends, as I do to our Japanese and American and British friends, if any of your companies ... want to buy assets in Australia, they're subject to the foreign investment policy of this country," he said.

Wen is the first Chinese premier to tour Australia since 1988 and the most senior official since President Hu Jintao visited in October 2003.