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UNSC seat: Australia supports India

Australia supported India`s claim for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council.

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.