‘Want to achieve closer ties with India’, says Australian PM

New Delhi, Oct 17: Visiting Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday said that strengthening bilateral ties is the key objective of her state visit to India.

Gillard, who was accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here, said: “I am delighted to be here in India, we are very old friends, but I want to achieve in this visit is closer ties for the future.”

“Our interests are converging and that means our nations can work together to strengthen our economic partnership, to strengthen our strategic partnership and resolve issues that I would be speaking to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about later today. I am delighted to be here,” she added.

Gillard will be meeting Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to start negotiations on the sale of uranium to India for its nuclear power programme.

Australia had earlier refused to sell nuclear material to India because it had not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Gillard on Tuesday said that her government had changed its policy and was willing to start negotiations on selling uranium to India.

Gillard told reporters that negotiations on civil nuclear co-operation were likely to start between the two countries.

“We have changed our party policy so that there is now no fetter for us on selling uranium to India. We have changed our government policy. The thing that would have to happen next is the negotiation of a comprehensive civil nuclear co-operation agreement,” Gillard said. (ANI)