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 which is being opposed by China.
Jaishankar’s visit came a week ahead of the plenary meeting of the 48-nation atomic trading bloc scheduled to be held in Seoul on June 24 where India’s membership is likely to be discussed.
“Yes, I can confirm 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 this 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 “remain 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 these two 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 NSG membership to countries which were not signatory to 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.