Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott brought Narendra Modi a Nehru jacket made of his country’s famous lambs-wool today. But the big gift is a nuclear deal that will entitle India to buy uranium from Australia after years of negotiation.
“Both PM Modi and I want to be known as infrastructure Prime Ministers,” said Mr Abbott, confirming that the deal, crucial for energy-starved India, will be signed this evening.
India and Australia kick-started negotiations on uranium sales in 2012 after Canberra lifted a long-standing ban on exporting the valuable ore to Delhi to meet its ambitious nuclear energy programme.
India, which is heavily dependent on coal for generating power, has 20-odd small nuclear plants with plans for more.
Australia, the world’s third-largest producer of uranium, had previously ruled out selling the metal because nuclear-armed India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Australian officials have said they are now happy with guarantees and precautions offered by India that Australian uranium exports will be used only for peaceful purposes.
During a trip to Japan earlier this week, Prime Minister Modi was unable to close a deal on nuclear energy cooperation, but both countries have agreed to speed up negotiations.