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Joint study on N-deal with US

Our Bureau

Howard to discuss India's need for uranium


The new deal
The two countries have signed a Trade and Economic Framework aimed at expanding bilateral economic and commercial ties.
Agreements related to enhancing air service were also signed.


LET'S TALK HEAVY METAL: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, with his Australian counterpart, Mr John Howard, at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday. — Kamal Narang

New Delhi , March 6

In a step forward on nuclear co-operation, India and Australia have decided to set up a joint group to study the Indo-US nuclear deal signed last week during the visit of the US President, Mr George W. Bush.

This decision comes after the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, requested the visiting Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, to lift the ban on sale of uranium to India.

Mr Howard had earlier in the day indicated that he would discuss India's need for uranium with Dr Singh. "I think we would like to talk about it (uranium export to India) ... We will talk about (it) against the background of the policies and needs of the two countries."

Trade pact

Besides this, the two countries have signed a Trade and Economic Framework aimed at expanding bilateral economic and commercial ties. Two-way trade between Australia and India was worth A$9.4 billion dollars ($6.98 billion) in 2005, with a A$6.3 billion surplus in Australia's favour. Agreements related to enhancing air service were also signed.

Australia on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India on co-operation in defence, covering maritime cooperation to check terrorist threat in Malacca Straits, the key sea-lane for trade.

Rising middle class

Earlier in the day, at a business luncheon organised by the business chambers CII, FICCI and Assocham, Mr Howard said, "India and China combined could easily produce middle classes of 400-800 million people over the next two generations - roughly the size of the current middle-class populations of the US, Western Europe and Japan combined."

Announcing a slew of partnerships, including those in biotechnology and energy, Mr Howard announced a A$25-million aid to India over the next five years for bilateral collaboration through the Strategic Research Fund and Exchange Scholarships. The two countries would sign an MoU to foster research cooperation in biotechnology. .

Energy and minerals

He said an Australia-India Joint Working Group on Energy and Minerals would be an important vehicle to address trade and investment issues in the energy and minerals sector, exchange information on policy developments and identify commercial outcomes.

"We have already in place a bilateral MoU in communication and information technology to build on our synergies in the IT industry," the Prime Minister said.

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