Gillard: India is a good friend of Australia

Indo-Aus ties on a new high as India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with PM Julia Gillard


Australia and India are forging stronger ties as Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard met India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the East Asia summit held in Nusa Dua in Bali, Indonesia.

They met on Saturday for a brief interaction to take forward discussions on selling uranium to India and also to review their strategic partnership.

Prime Minister Gillard apprised on the steps she’s planning to take on selling uranium to India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash told journalists.

“I am taking the change of policy to my party conference in December,” the Australian prime minister was quoted as telling journalists after her meeting with the Indian prime minister.

Prime Minister   Julia Gillard writes here this opinion piece on the proposal to sell uranium to India for the readers of The Indian Down Under:

“Australia and India are natural partners. We share a common region and a commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law.   We are both global in our outlook.

Our strategic partnership is underpinned by our fast-growing trade and investment links which last year saw two-way goods and services trade reach more than $21 billion.

Australian investment in India is moving from strength to strength, with almost $4.8 billion invested there last year. Our negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement could broaden our trade and investment relationship even further and open up new opportunities for businesses in both countries.

However our relationship is not limited to the world of trade and economics.

We have significantly strengthened cooperation in education, science and research and in energy, climate change and water.

Australia and India also share significant people-to-people links that underscore the closeness and warmth of our relations. These links exist at all levels through government, business and individuals. More than 300,000 Indian born people are currently living in Australia and more than 65,000 Indian students are currently studying here. Australia, like India, is a culturally diverse and welcoming country and our shared values of acceptance, inclusiveness and open-mindedness have allowed us both to forge vibrant multicultural societies.

Yet despite these links, in one important regard we treat India differently. We will not sell India uranium for peaceful purposes – though Canada is preparing to – while policy allows us to export it to countries such as China, Japan and the United States.

I believe it is time for the Labor Party to modernise our platform and enable us to strengthen our connection with dynamic, democratic India.

With a rapidly developing economy, India is looking to increase its development of nuclear energy into the future. This provides Australia and India with an opportunity to strengthen our economic ties, and promote clean energy development in the region.

I know this may be a controversial subject for some people. That is why we must, of course, expect of India the same standards we do of all countries for uranium export ”“ strict adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency arrangements and strong bilateral undertakings and transparency measures which will provide assurances our uranium will only be used for peaceful purposes.

The Australian Labor Party strongly believes in the economic growth of our region. It is in our mutual interests for our neighbours to prosper. India’s continuing growth demands security of domestic energy supply. It drives things like communications networks, which drives ICT development, which in turn drives innovation, prosperity and jobs. With around 40 per cent of India’s population currently having access to electricity for less than 12 hours a day, the logic of using Australia’s uranium to provide base load clean, reliable electricity is part of a virtuous cycle.

India is a good friend of Australia and an important and valued member of the community of nations. The breadth and potential of our relationship is enormous as we continue to strengthen our ties. Together, we have a bright future ahead in this Asian Century.”

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