New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) Describing India as a key partner of Canberra, Australian ambassador Peter Varghese Friday said the two countries will focus on closer cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and discuss civil nuclear cooperation during the visit of Prime Minister Julia Gillard later this month.
"This will be her first visit to India as the prime minister. The discussions will be wide-ranging. Some MoUs will be signed," Varghese told reporters here when asked about the Oct 15-17 visit of Gillard.
"This is an issue that will come up for discussion," Varghese said when asked whether India and Australia will seal a civil nuclear pact during Gillard's trip to New Delhi.
He, however, chose not to comment when asked whether Australia was insisting on additional safeguards for the civil nuclear pact.
Gillard comes here months after a reversal of Canberra's long-standing policy by the ruling Labour Party on supply of uranium to India.
India and Australia, said well-placed sources, are likely to be sign the agreement on civil nuclear cooperation during Gillard's visit.
If the negotiations succeed, the India deal will be the first country-to-country agreement by Australia to sell the yellow cake to a country outside the ambit of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Varghese focused on the burgeoning of bilateral relations across all areas, saying India would be among a handful of countries that would have influence on Australia, region and the world, he said.
The envoy stressed that maritime cooperation in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific region would be a key priority for both countries.
"We both want an inclusive and outward-looking region. The strategic theatre of the future will be around the maritime domain. Issues like freedom of navigation will be increasingly important," Varghese said.