(Releads with announcement of deal, adds comments, changes dateline from TORONTO)
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, April 15 (Reuters) - The Canadian government on Wednesday unveiled a C$350 million ($280 million) deal to supply uranium fuel to India, formally ending a lengthy dispute that began after New Delhi used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.
Canadian producer Cameco Corp will supply 7.1 million pounds (3.22 million kilos) of uranium concentrate to India over the next five years. The deal is Cameco’s first with India, which the firm called the second fastest growing market for nuclear fuel. Shares in the uranium miner rose 5.8 percent in Toronto.
“Canada is providing uranium to India as a mark of its trust and confidence in India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a news conference during an official visit.
Canada banned exports of uranium and nuclear hardware to India in the 1970s after New Delhi used Canadian technology to develop a nuclear bomb.
The two countries started to put the dispute behind them with a cooperation deal in 2013 that let Canadian firms export controlled nuclear materials and equipment subject to safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“(That agreement) really allowed us to turn the page on what had been in our judgment an unnecessarily frosty relationship for far too long,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the news conference.
Modi has made nuclear power a key element of his clean energy strategy. India needs foreign nuclear technology and fuel to ramp up capacity by a planned 14 times from 4,560 megawatts over the next two decades.
The two prime ministers also said they wanted to boost bilateral trade, which currently sits at a modest C$6.3 billion a year, and revive stalled talks on a free trade agreement.
“It (trade) is not where we want it to be but it is growing,” said Harper.
Modi arrived in Canada on April 14 for the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister in 42 years.
Around 1.2 million Canadians - just under 4 percent of the population - have ties to India as either immigrants or their descendants. They form an important voting block in cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
Canada’s ruling Conservatives - facing a tough election in October 2015 - have tried hard to build ties with the Indian community and Harper will appear with Modi at public events in both Toronto and Vancouver.
$1=$1.25 Canadian Additional reporting by Euan Rocha Editing by W Simon