Australia to back India for nuclear watchdog group membership

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by AVERAGE INDIAN, Nov 19, 2013.



    Sep 22, 2012
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    AUSTRALIA will back India's full membership into the exclusive Nuclear Suppliers' Group - a non-proliferation watchdog set up specifically in response to India's first nuclear test in 1974, foreign minister Julie Bishop said in New Delhi last night.

    The announcement draws India and Australia closer together at a time when Canberra is facing a crisis in its relationship with another critical neighbour, Jakarta, over revelations the Defence Signals Directorate eavesdropped on the mobile phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, his wife, senior cabinet ministers and advisers.

    Indonesian Foreign minister Marty Natalegawa last night recalled Ambassador Nadjib Riphat Kesoema for consultations, after condemning Australia's surveillance of 10 prominent Indonesians in August 2009 as "an unfriendly act, unbecoming of a relationship between strategic partners".

    "I am aware of Mr Natalagawa's concern, I am aware of the concerns of the Indonesian government and I take them seriously," Ms Bishop said.

    "The prime minister takes them seriously. As we've said on a number of occasions we value the relationship with Indonesia and the Abbott government will work very hard to ensure that the relationship remains very strong.

    "It is in the interest of both nations, I suggest, that we continue to cooperate as much as we can across a whole range of areas and we are determined to ensure that the relationship continues to flourish."

    While Australia's relationship with Indonesia is in freefall, its ties with New Delhi have been steadily improving since the former Labor government reversed its long-time ban on uranium sales to India, which remains outside the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    A third round of negotiations towards concluding a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement will begin November 26.

    In 2008, Australia backed an NSG consensus decision to grant India a waiver from existing rules that prevent signatories to the UN nuclear non-proliferation treaty from selling nuclear material or technology to countries outside the agreement.

    India aims to increase its nuclear power component to 25 per cent of all energy sources in the next few decades and many NSG members, including the US, UK, France and Russia, are keen to sell it civilian nuclear technology.

    Ms Bishop said the government had given "detailed consideration" to supporting India's membership and "believe it's appropriate given India's strategic importance in our region and globally, and given India's record of non-proliferation".

    India's foreign minister Salman Kurshid said the decision - combined with the reversal of the uranium ban - demonstrated a high degree of trust between the two nations.

    "That is not something that happens between nations who don't trust each other."

    Asked whether India was concerned that Australia could also be eavesdropping on Indian politicians, Mr Kurshid said; "We have trust, we have a very fulsome working relationship.

    "I do understand that periodically between nations issues arise and are sometimes blown out of proportion, sometimes based on the act of an individual, sometimes on systemic failures, is for nations bilaterally to settle these issues.

    "We know each other and will work together for a better future for our respective people."

    Mr Kurshid said he was confident "two friendly nations like Indonesia and Australia - if there's an issue amongst them - they will be able to find appropriate solutions and appropriate ways of addressing them".

    Documents, leaked by US National Security Agency fugitive Edward Snowden to The Guardian newspaper and the ABC, contain a top-secret list compiled by the Defence Signals Directorate spy agency of the calls made by Dr Yudhoyono during 15 days in August 2009, less than a month after the July 17 terror bombings of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Calton hotels in Jakarta that killed seven people, including three Australians

    Ms Bishop flew to India for a three day visit after attending a commonwealth foreign ministers summit in Colombo last week in the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting which concluded on Sunday.

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