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Aus, Indian PMs may meet twice this year

The Prime Ministers of India and Australia are expected to meet twice this year, in bilateral visits that are likely to put the talks on uranium sales back on track.

world Updated: Feb 11, 2008 13:40 IST

The Prime Ministers of India and Australia are expected to meet twice this year, in bilateral visits that are likely to put the talks on uranium sales back on track.

Visiting Union Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told local daily The Australian' that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had extended an invitation to his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd to tour India and diplomats were hopeful of a visit in the second half of the year.

Rudd has also invited Singh to come to Australia, with the hope that it will happen this year, the newspaper said.

Sibal said India was confident that its negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be completed soon, resulting in an India-specific safeguards agreement that would allow nuclear trade with New Delhi.

"Our negotiations are still going on with the IAEA," Sibal said adding, "hopefully they will bear fruit soon. We are very keen to get the IAEA agreement through."

The Indo-US nuclear deal would then move to the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, and it is here that Australia will play a crucial role.

Reversing a policy decision by the previous John Howard administration, the Kevin Rudd government had said last month that it would not sell uranium to India as New Delhi was not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Australia had also said it has not yet made up its mind on what position it will take within the NSG.