October 17, 2012 - 12:18 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - India and Australia will hold talks Wednesday, Oct 17 to strengthen economic and strategic ties and explore cooperation in civilian nuclear energy, The Associated Press reports.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, on a three-day visit to India, will meet with her Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh later Wednesday, Indian officials said.
The two leaders will discuss Australia's decision to overturn a long-standing ban on exporting uranium to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. India is among those countries.
Australia has 40 percent of the world's known uranium reserves but it sells uranium only for power generation under strict conditions.
Energy-starved India has been desperately seeking uranium sources to run its nuclear power plants, and Australia's refusal to sell the mineral has been a sore point in relations between the two countries.
India refuses to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, saying it discriminates against countries that carried out tests after the treaty came into force in 1970.
Uranium sales to India will be possible once the two countries reach agreement on a nuclear safeguard arrangement, with India giving assurances that the uranium will not be diverted to its military program.
Gillard has said that she expects discussions on uranium sales to India to last one to two years.
The two leaders will also discuss defense cooperation, maritime security in the Indian Ocean region and combating terrorism.
India and Australia will also explore ways of boosting bilateral trade.