ABU DHABI // UAE-Australian relations have been moving from strength to strength helped by the recent nuclear-fuel deal, according to the Australian parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, Richard Marles.
Mr Marles, who was in the capital yesterday for the World Future Energy Summit, told an audience from the Australian Business Council that the UAE is Australia's base in the Middle East for business, defence and foreign policy.
Mr Marles said that the UAE nuclear cooperation agreement signed in July last year had given a "considerable boost to the Uranium industry in Australia after the world's confidence in Nuclear power was shaken due to Japan's Fukushima accident in 2011. Australia has the world's biggest uranium reserves, nearly a quarter of the global supply, and is expected to be one of the main suppliers for the UAE's nuclear power plant.
"The nuclear cooperation agreement has given a considerable boost to the Uranium market in Australia," he said. "The UAE is going to require 800 tonnes of Uranium to operate its four reactors by 2020. We export 7,000 tons a year, this accounts for more than 10 per cent of our exports and if we even get one third of those this will give a boost our industry," he said.
During an earlier meeting yesterday with Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Marles said that the UAE had confirmed its participation as a full member of the Bali Process to combat human trafficking.
The Bali Process is an international framework agreement that was initiated in Bali, Indonesia, in 2002, to handle large influxes of asylum seekers and to fight the trafficking of people. More than 50 countries and numerous international agencies participate in the Bali Process which is co-chaired by Australia and Indonesia.
"The UAE has achieved notable developments in combating human trafficking and has already been an observer of the Bali Process and active in it," Mr Marles said.
"Many travellers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran come to Australia via the UAE, so the UAE's cooperation is a boost in combating human trafficking."
The Australian secretary added that the UAE was Australia's base of operations for all its Middle East military operations. "The UAE is our most important partner in the region. Our defence operations in the Middle East are all coordinated out of Dubai, including operations in Iraq, Afghanistan as well as our counter piracy work," he said.
Mr Marles leaves the country today for a two-week African tour.