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June 20, 2016

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China refuses point-blank to back India

China refuses point-blank to back India

NEW DELHI: Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has made an unannounced visit to Beijing in order to discuss India’s NSG bid with China; however, Beijing refused to support the Indian bid for NSG membership in plain words.

Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar made an unannounced visit to Beijing on June 16-17 to enlist support for India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which is being opposed by China, the Indian media reported on Sunday.

Jaishankar’s visit came a week ahead of the plenary meeting of the 48-nation nuclear trading bloc scheduled to be held in Seoul on June 24 where India’s membership is likely to be discussed.

“Yes, I can confirm the Foreign Secretary visited Beijing on June 16-17 for bilateral consultations with his Chinese counterpart. All major issues, including India’s NSG membership, were discussed,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Sunday.

China has been strongly opposing India’s membership at the premier club arguing that it was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Earlier, in the week, China’s official media said India’s NSG membership would “jeopardise” China’s national interests besides touching a ‘raw nerve’ in Pakistan. The Chinese foreign ministry had said a week back that members of the NSG ‘remained divided’ on the issue of non-NPT countries joining it and called for full discussions.

India has been reaching out to NSG member countries seeking support for its membership of the bloc whose members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology.

The US has backed India and asked various NSG members to support New Delhi’s bid.

It is understood that a number of countries, including Turkey, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand, were not in favour of India’s entry into the NSG.

India had managed to secure support of NSG members — Switzerland and Mexico — during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to thesetwo countries as part of a five-nation tour. Mexico and Switzerland were known to have strong nuclear proliferation concerns and were not in favour of allowing the NSG membership to countries which were not signatory to the NPT.

The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid.

India’s access to the NSG, a body that regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for India’s domestic nuclear energy programme.

India has been campaigning for membership of the bloc for last few years and had formally moved its application on May 12.

The NSG had granted an exclusive waiver to India in 2008 to access civil nuclear technology after China reluctantly backed India’s case based on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday that China is not opposing India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), underscoring the government’s efforts to convince Beijing to give up its defiant stand.

She said that some powers were opposing the cordial relations between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Her statement came after an unannounced visit by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to Beijing.

“China is talking only about criteria and procedures” and is not opposed to India becoming an NSG member, Swaraj said, addressing her annual press conference.

Swaraj was hopeful that India would be able to convince China.

“I think there is a consensus which is being made and I am sure that India will become an NSG member this year,” she said. “I’m in contact with 23 nations … one or two raised concern but I think there is a consensus.”

The minister refused comments on Pakistan’s push to join the NSG, saying India could not say anything since it’s not a member of the elite club.

“We will not oppose entry of any nation to the NSG. We think that the application of each country should be considered on the basis of their merit,” she said.

 

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