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Australia rules out uranium sales to India

Australian Prime Minister John Howard says an Indo-US nuclear pact will not change his country's stance.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2006 03:24 IST

Australian Prime Minister John Howard effectively ruled out selling uranium to India as he headed for New Delhi on Sunday.

India wants to expand its nuclear power industry but Howard indicated there would be no uranium deal as the Asian country had not signed the United Nations treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"We don't have any plan to change our current policy," he told reporters ahead of his departure.

Howard said a pact signed last Thursday by US President George W Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sharing of nuclear technology would not change Australia's stance.

"We're certainly not going to suddenly change our policy just because the Indians and Americans have reached an agreement," he said.

Australia, which has around 40 per cent of the world's known uranium deposits, does not sell uranium to countries which are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Howard said the main focus of his four-day trip would be to build trade ties and deepen the "strategic relationship" between the two countries.

The conservative Australian leader, who celebrated 10 years in office last week, will be accompanied by top business executives as he travels to New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.

"India is an increasingly influential global and regional player whose interests converge with Australia's. The discussions I will have while in India will add impetus to our growing strategic relationship," Howard said.

"During my visit it is anticipated that a number of agreements will be signed in various fields including trade, defence, science and air services," he said.

Howard will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President APJ Abdul Kalam, various cabinet ministers and Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

First Published: Mar 05, 2006 18:12 IST