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Australia not moved by India's repeated pleas on Uranium

Australia on Thursday refused to concede to India's repeated requests for revoking a ban on Uranium sale to it, saying Canberra remains steadfast on its policy of not selling the yellow metal to NPT non-signatories.

world Updated: Jan 20, 2011 13:13 IST

Australia on Thursday refused to concede to India's repeated requests for revoking a ban on Uranium sale to it, saying Canberra remains steadfast on its policy of not selling the yellow metal to NPT non-signatories.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna raised the issue of Uranium sale with Australia for a second day during his meeting with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd but the latter said his country's stand remains unchanged.

He had on Wednesday taken up the issue with Australia's Resource, Energy and Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson.

Rudd acknowledged India's clean record on nuclear proliferation, but maintained it was Australia's national policy to not sell the yellow metal to NPT non-signatories.

Rudd said "Australia fundamentally respects India's long standing credentials on the non-proliferation question".

Addressing a joint press conference here along with the visiting Krishna, Rudd acknowledged that India has not been responsible for a single act of nuclear weapons proliferation anywhere in the world.

"Something which we place on record again as being our views of India's public policy posture and operational behaviour for a very long period of time," he said.

Australia is unwilling to sell uranium to India because it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Rudd said the issue, however, has not damaged ties between the countries.

"However, Australia's stands on NPT remains. We continue to discuss these matters as friends do," he said emphasising on the strategic partnership that the two countries shared.

"There is a huge amount underway in the Australia-India relationship at the political, security and economic levels... There's sufficient ballast in this relationship to deal with areas of periodic disagreement as there are in all relationships," he said.

Commenting on the issue, Krishna said he has pleaded with the Australian government to change the policy, stressing that nuclear energy as a clean energy source was crucial to the rising energy demands of India.

"If you have to have clean energy, then according to India the only option is to have nuclear energy, and if you have to have nuclear energy, then you certainly need uranium," he said.

On the question of the security of Indian students in Australia, Rudd gave his full assurance to his counterpart.

He said as the Foreign Minister he takes the issue of security of any guest including international students 'fundamentally and seriously'.

"I take the responsibility and that is our job," he said after holding the seventh ministerial dialogue with Krishna at a joint press conference in Melbourne on Thursday.