TWO days after Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar wound up a quiet two-day visit to China, where he met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, India on Sunday suggested that its chances of joining the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) may have brightened.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that China was “not opposing” India’s membership and was talking about “criteria and process” for becoming an NSG member.
“China is not opposing membership of India in NSG, it is only talking of criteria and procedure. I am hopeful that we would be able to convince China as well to support our entry to the NSG,” Swaraj told reporters.
“I think that there is a consensus which is being made and I am sure that India will become the member of the NSG this year,” she said, adding that membership to the NSG was “crucial for India’s energy policy”.
“I am in contact with 23 nations, one or two have raised concerns, but I think consensus is there,” said Swaraj.
The issue of India’s membership will be discussed at a plenary meeting of the elite group on June 23-24 in Seoul.
Government sources told The Indian Express that during Jaishankar’s visit on June 16-17, Chinese officials were “receptive” and “listened” to what he had to say.
Asked about Pakistan’s application to the NSG, Swaraj said that India, being a non-member, cannot comment on its entry and role. “But, we will not oppose the entry of any nation to the NSG. We think that the application of each country should be considered on the basis of merit,” said Swaraj.
Earlier, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup confirmed that Jaishankar visited Beijing on June 16-17 “for bilateral consultations with his Chinese counterpart”. “All major issues, including India’s NSG membership, were discussed,” Swarup said.
China has strongly opposed India’s application for NSG membership, saying that New Delhi is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), while India has showcased its “impeccable track record” on nuclear non-proliferation.
Over the last few weeks, India has made a determined push to get member countries of the NSG onboard, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Switzerland and Mexico to garner their support.
However, Turkey, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand had raised questions on India’s application at the June 9-10 extraordinary plenary session in Vienna.