Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard sealed an agreement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to start negotiations on the sale of uranium to energy-starved India, concluding her three-day state visit.

“This visit by Prime Minister Gillard is bound to open a new chapter in India-Australia relations,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters after they formally agreed to start negotiations on a nuclear safeguards agreement. Mr. Singh said that agreement on uranium sales was a “recognition of India’s energy needs as well as our record and credentials”.

Australia considered selling uranium to India despite it being not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In line with the talks aimed at improving ties, both countries have also agreed to boost diplomatic relations through annual formal prime ministerial meetings and bolster defense ties, including naval exercises in the Indian ocean, and negotiate on a prisoner transfer agreement.

Ms. Gillard said engaging with India on these levels will keep the “momentum” in their relationship, which she claims is one of Australia’s most important.