Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday discussed India’s NSG membership with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and also raised the issue of the confidential data leak of the Indian Scorpene Class submarines with French President Francois Holland on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. On the second and final day of the summit in this east Chinese city, Modi met Erdogan and Hollande in separate “pull-aside” meetings.
Prior to that, he met Britain’s new Prime Minister Theresa May and held discussions on “building opportunities” in the aftermath of UK’s decision to exit the European Union. In his meeting with Erdogan, the prime minister discussed the issue of India’s membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters.
The discussion with Erdogan on NSG was significant as Turkey was among the few countries — along with China — which had stalled India’s bid to join the elite grouping at its plenary meeting in June in Seoul. China had then raised objection saying India was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
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Turkey too raised its concern over the presence of supporters of dissident Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who it accuses of masterminding the failed July coup attempt, in India. Swarup said enhancing civil aviation with Turkey also figured during the discussions. In his bilateral meeting with Hollande, Modi raised the leak of sensitive data related to Scorpene Class submarines. “This issues has also figured,” Swarup said.
Over 22,000 pages of secret data on the capabilities of six highly-advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with French defence company DCNS were leaked. The data leak reportedly happened overseas. With May, the prime minister underlined that even after
UK’s exit from the EU, “Britain remains an important partner” for India.
“May also referred to the recent passage of GST (bill) which would further boost trade and investment ties with the UK. She supported PM’s reform agenda and the UK is keen to participate in Make in India, Smartcity and Skill India initiatives,” he said. The two leaders discussed further enhancing of the defence partnership and Modi invited UK firms to India. They also talked about the challenges of terrorism, calling it “the biggest threat and danger to the world with no boundaries,” Swarup said.
Modi and May also discussed enhancing counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the UK, the spokesperson said. May, UK’s second woman prime minister after Margaret Thatcher, also underlined the importance Britain attaches to the Indian diaspora in the UK. Modi had congratulated May, who succeded David Cameron after he quit following UK’s decision to exit the 28-member world’s largest single market EU, on her assumption of the new responsibility on July 27 and had affirmed India’s commitment to further strengthen the strategic bilateral partnership.
In his final bilateral meeting here, Modi held talks with Argentine President Mauricio Macri. Modi was accompanied by National Security Advisor Ajit
Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar during the brief meeting with the French president. Modi yesterday briefly interacted with US President Barack Obama and had a bilateral with Chinese President Xi Jinping. He also had separate meetings with Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman yesterday.