India, Australia to hold nuclear energy cooperation talks in March



New Delhi: India will begin talks for a civil nuclear energy cooperation with uranium-rich Australia in March this year.

"We shall be commencing negotiations on a Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Agreement in March 2013," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said here on Monday after talks with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr.

The first round of negotiations conducted by the Foreign Ministries of both countries will be held in Delhi.

The agreement would enable the export of uranium from Australia to India, Carr said.

"A sense of urgency and purpose will be there. We will move swiftly," Khurshid said pointing out that India already had similar agreements with a number of countries which could be used as a model.

During the parleys, it was decided that Defence Minister AK Antony would visit Australia sometime in March for further discussions on cooperation in defence and security sectors. This would be the first ever visit by an Indian Defence Minister to Australia.

Australia had agreed to start negotiations on a civil nuclear deal with India during the October visit of Prime Minister Julia Gillard to New Delhi.

In December 2011, Gillard's Labour Party had overturned its long-standing ban on exporting uranium to India.

PTI