Almost a month after Chinese envoy Liu Jinsong indicated to The Indian Express that there is “room for negotiations” on India’s bid to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and a solution can be found, Beijing agreed Saturday to send its main negotiator to New Delhi for continuing talks on the NSG issue.
This was the main outcome of a three-hour meeting in New Delhi between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. In June, at the NSG plenary session in Seoul, China blocked consensus on India’s application for membership.
A government source, privy to developments Saturday, told The Sunday Express that the decision to send China’s top negotiator was taken after a detailed presentation was made by Swaraj and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar.
“It was a positive meeting between the two sides where both were trying to find ways to accommodate each other’s concerns,” the source said.
It was agreed that the Directors General (DGs) of Disarmament of the two countries would meet soon. In the last few years, officials of the disarmament section of the Ministry of External Affairs and their counterparts have met four times.
Joint Secretary (Disarmament and International Security Affairs) in the Ministry of External Affairs, Amandeep Singh Gill, who is India’s key negotiator for NSG, was also present at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also received Wang for about 20 minutes during which the Chinese Foreign Minister briefed him on the G20 Summit to be held in China in September.
At the “lengthy discussion” between the two Foreign Ministers, Swaraj “outlined the importance of meeting our clean energy goals in the context of COP-21”, sources said, adding “we offered to discuss any technical issues China may have”.
There was a serious attempt, sources said, to address the trust deficit stemming from China’s continuing support to Pakistan on issues detrimental to India. Swaraj put these forward at the meeting. India brought up China’s technical hold on listing of Masood Azhar in the UNSC 1267 Committee, urging Beijing to “revisit its technical hold in line with its own professed zero-tolerance towards terrorism”.
In April this year, China was the only permanent UN Security Council (UNSC) member that blocked India’s move to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list.
Swaraj also voiced India’s concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. The project includes roads and railways, from north to south of Pakistan. It aims to reduce the distance for Chinese goods bound for the West and Africa. On Friday, Prime Minister Modi asserted, at an all-party meeting in New Delhi, that PoK belongs to India.
Another outcome of the Swaraj- Wang talks was that a new platform, one at the level of Foreign Secretaries, had been raised to discuss bilateral relations. There is already a permanent mechanism in place for boundary talks, held between the special envoys, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.
At the meeting Saturday, the situation on the border was reviewed and steps to strengthen peace and tranquility were discussed. Wang focused on bilateral issues, regional and global developments. “South China Sea was not brought up by China,” sources said. They also discussed BRICS preparations in Goa. Wang had visited Goa on Friday.
Both sides, sources said, made positive assessments on expanding investments, greater infrastructure cooperation, easier visas, increasing tourism and cultural, academic and civil society interactions. Regional and international issues including the implications of Brexit, the situation in the Korean peninsula, UN Security Council were also discussed.