- Title: INDIA: Australia seeks enhanced economic partnership with India
- Date: 6th March 2006
- Summary: CU OF FLAGS
- Embargoed: 21st March 2006 14:18
- Location: India
- Country: India
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA8ALJ7B7RTQ5ZXAHZRUKGHT35V
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Australia on Monday (March 6) indicated that the past would not continue to dictate its relations with India, which is emerging as an economic force to reckon with.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who arrived in New Delhi on Sunday (March 05) on a four-day visit, said India's economic growth can no longer be glossed over.
Ties between New Delhi and Canberra had soured after India conducted nuclear tests in 1998 and Howard told Reuters last week, Australia would not sell uranium to India under its current policy.
"This is a wonderful moment in the history of the relationship between the two countries to consolidate what we have achieved in the past in common but we have to explore a lot of fields because India's economic growth's influence is very significant. India is now the fourth largest economy in the world. In a short distance of time, in fact will become the third. It's growth rate is very significant," Howard told reporters after a ceremonial welcome at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi.
India and Australia are expected to sign a number of key agreements in trade, defence, science and air services.
Howard's visit comes just two days after U.S. President George Bush concluded his three-day visit to New Delhi, during which he had sewed in a key nuclear treat with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Australia had welcomed the pact, but has expressed reservations on reversing its domestic policy on uranium sales to India, as New Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Australia, which has around 40 per cent of the world's known uranium deposits, does not sell uranium to countries, which are not signatories of the NPT.
But the issue was expected to figure high on the agenda of talks between the two sides as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would ask his Australian counterpart to reconsider the policy in the wake of New Delhi finalising a key agreement on civilian nuclear energy with the United States.
"We would like to trade with Australia in all areas and we are short of uranium. We would very much like Australia to sell uranium to India," said Singh after formally receiving Howard. Howard is accompanied by a delegation of CEOs of Australia's top companies, many of whom are eying opportunities to tap into India's growing needs of clean energy and other infrastructure.
Ahead of Howard's visit Indian cabinet had approved a revised air service agreement to increase air traffic between the two countries.
Howard, who will also travel to India's southern Chennai and financial and entertainment capital of Mumbai, is expected to meet the cast and crew of Bollywood movie, Salaam Namaste, which was shot in Victoria. Australian government is trying to showcase the film to lure Indian tourists to that country.
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