New Delhi, Oct. 17: Australia today offered to deepen co-operation with India in energy security, with both sides announcing they would start negotiations towards inking a civil nuclear agreement.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Australia counterpart Julia Gillard held talks for over an hour.
A joint statement issued after the meeting said Singh had “welcomed” the Australian government’s decision “on uranium sales to India, noting that nuclear energy will play an important role in India’s future energy needs”.
Australia has the world’s largest uranium reserves.
The leaders announced that their countries would start negotiations on a bilateral civil nuclear co-operation agreement, which, for Australia, is a prerequisite for uranium sales to other countries.
The previous Labor government had decided against uranium sales to India as Delhi is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. But Gillard had shepherded a proposal to overturn that decision at a party conference last December and won a close vote in favour of Australia allowing sales.
The two sides signed agreements to increase co-operation in wool and woollen products and enhance student mobility from India to Australia and take steps for their welfare.
Gillard said Australia would provide an additional funding of $1.5 million over three years for the Australia-India Institute and confirmed a grant to help establish a Nalanda University Chair in environmental studies from the next academic session.