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Pact for uranium, diamonds

2009-09-01 18:02

New Delhi - India has signed a pact with Namibia that could open the way to investment in the African country's uranium and diamond industries, a foreign ministry statement said on Tuesday.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba signed five accords with Indian premier Manmohan Singh after talks here, the statement said.

The two sides "noted the many opportunities for investment available in Namibia in the uranium, diamond, agriculture, energy and mining sectors... and resolved to encourage Indian investment in these areas," it said.

Namibia is ranked among the top producers of uranium behind Canada, Kazakhstan and Australia, with output of 4 366 tons of uranium oxide - representing 10% of the world's production.

New Delhi has been looking to buy uranium to fuel its planned expansion in nuclear energy after the removal of a three-decade-old embargo last year.

It would face competition in Namibia from Chinese, Russian and Western companies, who are also interested in the country's rich deposits.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on "co-operation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy," but no details were given, as well as others in defence, mining, travel and technology.

India clinched an accord with the US last October to enable sales of civilian nuclear technology to India for the first time in 34 years.

India also obtained a rare exemption from the 46-member Nuclear Supplier Group that controls global atomic commerce to buy nuclear fuel and power plants to boost its electricity production.

The group normally restricts the sale of nuclear fuel and technology to countries that have signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which India has not.

Engaging with Namibia is seen as part of India's strategy of reworking its relationship with Africa with which New Delhi once had close ties.

India's influence on the continent has waned while countries such as China and Japan have made great inroads.