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Australia rebuffs India on uranium exports

MELBOURNE, Jan 20, 2011 – Australia on Thursday rebuffed India\’s renewed push for uranium exports, upholding its export ban despite personal pleas from visiting Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna.

Krishna said he had raised the issue during an annual meeting with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, telling reporters India\’s booming energy needs could only be met through nuclear power.

"And if we have to have nuclear energy, then it\’s certain we need uranium," said Krishna.

Australia has 27 percent of the world\’s uranium reserves but the centre-left Labor government has said it will be sold only to nations that are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which does not include India.

Rudd said Canberra\’s position had not changed.

"Obviously our two countries have different views on this," said the foreign minister. "We\’ll continue to discuss these matters as friends do."

Rudd insisted the thorny issue had not affected relations with India, Australia\’s fifth-largest trading partner, saying there was a "huge amount underway … at the political, security and economic levels."

"There\’s sufficient ballast in this relationship to deal with areas of periodic disagreement," Rudd said.

Ties were strained last year by a wave of violent attacks on Indians studying in Australia, including muggings, beatings and a murder, and were aggravated by reports of racist emails circulating among police.

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But Krishna said his fears about the issue had eased.

"The number of steps that were initiated have led to a situation where Indian students feel quite secure, they feel quite confident and they feel that they could pursue their studies without any anxiety," he said.

"That worry is missing, that anguish has disappeared."

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