Visiting New Zealand Prime Minister John Key Wednesday agreed to “contribute constructively” to the decision-making process at the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, which is likely to consider India’s application. Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his gratitude for Key’s “constructive approach”.
Although the meeting did not lead to an explicit support, sources said discussions between the two leaders indicated progress — since New Zealand was one of the countries, led by China, which expressed reservations on India’s application at the NSG plenary session in June.
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On the issue of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar’s listing at the UN as a global terrorist, the two leaders agreed to “enhance cooperation” bilaterally as well as in the UN, “and especially in 1267 committee” to combat terrorism. New Zealand is the chair at the 1267 committee till end of December, when the technical hold put by China on India’s move to get Azhar designated a terrorist will lapse. India is hoping that New Zealand will play a role in expediting the process, and Modi is understood to have briefed Key about Pakistan-sponsored terrorism.
As reported by The Indian Express, the Indian side raised these two “high priority issues” during the bilateral meeting. After about two hours of “productive talks”, Modi said, “I am thankful to Prime Minister Key for New Zealand’s constructive approach to the consideration of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.”
Key said, “…New Zealand would continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in NSG to consider India’s membership. New Zealand is committed to working with NSG members to reach a decision as soon as possible.”
The joint statement said New Zealand acknowledged the importance to India joining the NSG. “India stressed that this would provide the predictability necessary for meeting India’s clean energy goals in the context of the Paris agreements.”
Aiming to assuage New Zealand’s concerns on nuclear proliferation, the joint statement also said, “India acknowledged the importance to New Zealand of a strong non-proliferation and disarmament regime. It reiterated its commitment to the total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, including in particular nuclear weapons. Pending the global elimination of nuclear weapons, India will uphold global non-proliferation and work with partners such as New Zealand to advance nuclear disarmament.” Modi said the two sides agreed to strengthen security and intelligence cooperation against terrorism and radicalisation, including in the domain of cyber security.
The joint statement said that the two sides agreed to combat terrorist threats in all their forms and manifestations. This is relevant in the context of the Masood Azhar’s case.
“They called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping cross-border terrorism. Both sides called for the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that would contribute to the further strengthening of the international counter-terrorism legal framework,” it added.
The two sides inked three pacts, including one pertaining to Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income, and decided to establish Foreign Minister-level dialogue and exchanges on cyber issues.
Stressing that trade and investment ties were among the key areas during the talks, Modi said they recognised the need for greater economic engagement to respond to the growing uncertainties in global economy.
“In this regard, we have agreed to continue to work closely towards an early conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement,” he said.