Vol. 5 Num 630 Tue. March 07, 2006  

India seeks uranium from Australia

Hot on the heels of signing a landmark civilian nuclear deal with the United States, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday sought uranium from Australia ahead of talks with the visiting Aussie counterpart John Howard.

"We want to trade with Australia in all areas. We are short of uranium. We would like Australia to sell uranium to India," Singh told reporters after a ceremonial reception for Howard, who arrived here Sunday evening, at the Presidential Palace here.

Replying to a question, Howard said he would discuss with Singh the issue of uranium sale to India keeping in mind the needs and policies of India and Australia.

"I think I will discuss the issue keeping in mind policies and needs of our two countries," he said.

Australia has an estimated 40 percent of the world's uranium reserves but does not sell uranium to countries, which are not signatories to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The country is reportedly planning to sell uranium to China.

Australia is among the countries, which had reacted sharply to India's testing of nuclear capable missiles in May 1998.

Trade and economic cooperation will be high on the agenda of Howard's talks with Singh. Leading industry body Assocham estimates that bilateral trade would go up from 7.5 billion dollars to 16 billion dollars by 2010.

While India's imports from Australia are worth six billion dollars, its exports account for just 1.5 billion dollars.

India's main imports include gold, coal, diamond, copper ores and wool and its exports comprise mainly of garments, cotton fabric, gems and jewellery and machinery and instruments.

Australian coal worth 1.2 billion dollar is used for production of more than 50 percent of steel in India and Indian power companies are more keen on importing coal from Australia because of its high quality devoid of ash.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard (R) is greeted by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during an official welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in New Delhi yesterday. Howard is on a four-day visit to India to boost trade and deepen strategic relationship between the two countries. PHOTO: AFP