Australia reaches out to India with climate aid

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Australia said it will invest $50 million to develop green technology in India in a sign Canberra is trying to bridge differences with New Delhi over climate change negotiations.

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made the announcement during a visit that was also aimed at soothing bilateral relations strained after several Indian students were assaulted in Australia, sparking an outrage in India.

“Our challenge is to work together and shape a common future for us all, requiring real action on part of all countries.”

India has slammed the so-called “Australian Proposal” on climate change that seeks to remove the distinction between rich and poorer nations, calling on both sides to cut emissions.

Developing countries led by India and China say negotiations should be based on a previously agreed U.N. framework that requires rich nations to take deep emission cuts while putting no such restrictions on poorer countries, Indian officials say.

India is also unhappy Australia refuses to supply uranium to nations that have not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, undermining an India-U.S. civilian nuclear deal which allowed uranium to be supplied to India for the first time in decades.

Rudd said Australia’s policy did not single out India.

“I appreciate that there is one aspect of the energy relationship which remains unresolved: Australia’s long-standing position on the export of uranium to countries that are not party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This is not a policy directed at India,” he said.

“The government understands that India looks to the day when its ambitious civil nuclear energy program can include Australian uranium.”

Rudd also made a pitch for India joining the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and for greater cooperation in areas such as security and a free trade agreement between the two countries.

“What Australia is trying to do is reduce disputes and build on whatever opportunities that exist,” said Naresh Chandra, former ambassador to the United States.

Representatives from about 190 countries will meet in Copenhagen next month to discuss a new climate change pact.

“The Australian proposal is already facing opposition from China, G-77 and other developing countries. India is saying no to the proposal and Australia would definitely want India to dilute its stand,” said K. Srinivas, a Greenpeace climate change expert.

Additional reporting by Nigam Prusty; Editing by Alistair Scrutton