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By Vittorio Hernandez
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has expressed support for allowing the sale of uranium to India in the near future.
Diplomats see this announcement as a dramatic change in Gillard's Labor Party's policies towards India. Her party has opposed the sale for the past four years.
"We must 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 and transparency measures, which will provide assurances our uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes," Gillard wrote in a column published in major Australian newspapers.
Gillard added that the move was taken because Canberra considers New Delhi as a growing economy with ambitious atomic energy plans.
"It is time for Labor to modernize our platform and enable us to strengthen our connection with dynamic, democratic India," Gillard said, adding, "Selling uranium to India will be good for the Australian economy and good for Australian jobs."
Her comments appeared ahead of her party's national conference next month.
The Gillard government has long demanded that India sign the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) before it starts uranium exports to the South Asian nation - a call New Delhi vehemently rejects, saying the NPT is discriminatory.
At a press conference in Melbourne later, Gillard urged her colleagues to change their four-year old stance, arguing that uranium exports to India will be good for the Australian economy. Secondly, she said, India is ambitiously considering increasing nuclear power share from the current 3 percent to 40 percent in next four decades.
Australia is the world's third largest uranium supplier.
India as well as the Australia India Business Council (AIBC) welcomed the news. AIBC Chairman Arun Sharma said that the change would strengthen relations with India. "The Australia-India relationship will redefine our nations and the region over the coming decades," Sharma said in a statement.
World - Australian PM Supports Lifting Ban on Uranium Sales to India | Global Viewpoint