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'Uranium sale issue with Aus after IAEA nod'

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee says the issue of procuring uranium from Australia will come up once it firms up an int'l arrangement for nuclear commerce.

world Updated: Jun 23, 2008 12:33 IST

India on Monday said its commitment to non-proliferation is "second to none" and the issue of procuring uranium from Australia will come up once it firms up an international arrangement for nuclear commerce.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who met his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith in Canberra, also said it was "too early" to refer to the issue of uranium sale as political discussions back home on implementing the Indo-US nuclear deal were still on.

"I have not come here with one issue of getting uranium from Australia. We are aware of the Labour party position on uranium for quite some time. Australia's commitment to non-proliferation is firm and we respect that," he said at a joint press conference after the meeting.

"So far our requirement of uranium is concerned I think it's too early to refer to that as it has been pointed out by Minister Smith...I am really busy back home in political front in regard to implementing 123 Agreement with the US. It is an exercise to catch a trend which has no possibility or when it will arrive at the platform we don't know."

"Once we have the entire process in place and uranium trade with India is permissible as per the international arrangement then and there the question will come," he said.

Smith said if and when the 123 Agreement reaches IAEA or NSG, Australia will give consideration to what the arrangement is. "We have told US government also that when such a thing happens, Australia will then give its consideration to the proposal."

Mukherjee also affirmed that India's commitment to non-proliferation is "second to none" and the two countries share a common goal of a nuclear-free world.

Mukherjee said India has sought details from Canberra on its newly-set up nuclear disarmament commission.

Lauding Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for the move, he said "It's on the same day 20 years ago when our former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi unfolded his vision of a nuclear-free world."

"We shall have to examine and look into it how it is going to reach that desired goal," he said.

"And so far our commitment to non-proliferation is concerned it is total... That is the correct direction and that is the ultimate direction," he said.

Commenting on the quadrilateral security talks involving India, Japan, Australia and the US, Mukherjee said "it was first initiated by Japan but it did not proceed further except some discussions. It's not correct to say that because of Chinese concerns we are not interested in the dialogue. There are various architectures involved which we are examining in greater details (to see) how it proceeds."

Mukherjee said India was engaged in expanding mutual cooperation with neighbouring nations like China and Pakistan despite differences on various issues.

"In respect to bilateral relations with China, I can assure you that despite the differences in respect of boundaries we are engaged constructively.. That is the cardinal principal of Indian foreign polices. There may be diversions in the views but that does not affect the expanding our mutual interest and cooperation with the neighbouring nations including Pakistan or China."