Australia PM Turnbull puts free trade deal with India on backburner

As India prepares to welcome Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull next week, negotiators from both sides are hammering out details for the first shipment of Australian uranium under the bilateral civil nuclear agreement.

Turnbull is visiting India in response to Modi's invitation to the Australian President during a G-20 summit in China a year ago.

The bilateral discussion also hinted at a growing agreement to oppose China's territorial claims over the South China Sea region. Prime Minister O'Neil said they will be assisting mostly in providing logistics support and also act as global observers during the election. "Australia is looking forward to deepening its bond with India", he added.

A sixth MoU was signed on cooperation in the field of health and medicine.

Turnbull had also expressed Australia's strong support for India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, as well as for its membership of the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

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On his part, Turnbull said Australia was helping India in its water management policy while sharing expertise in the area of renewable energy.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has emerged as Australia's main opportunity to bolster its trade prospects after US President Donald Trump pulled out of another, broader, trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, after taking office in January.

India is Australia's fifth largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth $19 billion in 2015/16, but there is significant scope to expand. On Tuesday, Turnbull will visit Mumbai, India's financial and entertainment capital, before flying to Sydney, according to India's External Affairs Ministry.

The two leaders got on to the Blue Line of the Metro at Mandi House station. Further, both the Prime Ministers also underscored Australia and India's joint commitment to enhancing regional cooperation in promoting maritime security and safety.

TERI-Deakin Nanobiotechnology Centre (TDNBC) was jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi and his Australian counterpart after delegation-level talks on April 10.

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