UNSC seat: Australia supports India



New Delhi: Australia on Thursday supported India's claim for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council and said the decision of its ruling party on supplying Uranium to New Delhi has removed any "potential irritant" in their growing bilateral relationship.

On a three-day visit to India, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the two countries have also agreed to look into prospects of enhancing practical military cooperation by holding bilateral naval exercises in future.

"We are of the view that under the reforms, India should be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Our Uranium decision also reflects that not just that India voluntarily has brought itself under the international regulators of civil nuclear energy the IAEA and NSG," he told reporters here.

Australia's ruling Labor Party has recently favoured supplying Uranium to India despite it not being a signatory of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), changing its long held position.

On discussions with his Indian counterpart A K Antony on Thursday, Smith said they have agreed on establishing Track 1.5 Dialogue (semi-government level), visit of Indian defence minister to Australia next year and increasing military cooperation by having bilateral naval exercises.

Asked if Australia could join the navies of India and the US for the Malabar series, Smith said, "There is a possibility of that. We just have to see how that goes."

Smith said from his perspective, his visit to India was successful. "I have no doubt that the uranium decision has removed any potential irritant in relationship and set the scene for further practical relationship," he said.

Smith on Thursday met Home Minister P Chidambaram and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon. He is scheduled to go to Mumbai on Friday where he will visit the Western Naval Command.

PTI