India, Australia to start negotiations for nuclear pact

India and Australia on Wednesday decided to launch negotiations for civil nuclear pact during the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard.

The two leaders also agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level to launch a Ministerial-level Dialogue on Energy Security, start negotiations for an Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons, apart from inking four pacts.

Singh also said that during the talks they have agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level, either bilaterally or during multilateral events. AFP

The two Prime Ministers held "substantive discussions on measures to give greater content" to bilateral relations, after which Singh said "relations between India and Australia are characterised by expanding trade and investment, defence cooperation, education and cultural linkages and people-to-people interaction".

"We are also developing wide-ranging cooperation in defence and security issues, including the fight against terrorism, in all of which we regard Australia as an important partner," he said in his statement to the media.

Announcing the decision to begin negotiations for an Agreement on Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation, which will precede actual cooperation, Singh said the Australian Labour Party has articulated a new policy on uranium sales to he country.

"This is recognition of India's energy needs as well as of our record and credentials and I have expressed to Prime Minister Gillard our India's appreciation of this development," he added.

Singh also said that during the talks they have agreed to hold annual meetings at the summit level, either bilaterally or during multilateral events.

The four MoUs inked in the presence of the two Prime Ministers included cooperation in the field of wool and woollen products, cooperation in student mobility and welfare and cooperation in civil space science, technology and education.

PTI