New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday insisted that China is not blocking India’s entry to the Nuclear Supplier’s Group (NSG) but is talking about the criteria and procedures.
“The NSG entry is crucial for India’s energy policy. China is not blocking India’s entry to the NSG. It is only talking about criteria and procedures. I am hopeful that we would be able to convince China to support our entry to the NSG,” Swaraj said.
The External Affairs Minister asserted India is not going to oppose entry of any nation to the NSG, adding that their application should be considered on merit basis.
“As far as entry of Pakistan is concerned, India, being a non-member of the NSG, cannot comment on their entry and their role. But we will not oppose entry of any nation to the NSG and will support their bid. We think that the application of each country should be considered on the basis of their merit,” she said.
Swaraj also expressed hope that by the end of this year, India will become a member of the 48-nation club dedicated to curbing nuclear arms proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that could foster nuclear weapons development.
“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.
“We have been engaged with the NSG since last 12 years and there have been talks of our membership with the group since last five years. But the situation is different this year.Our argument is that we got the waiver in 2008 and before that the criteria and the process was decided and based on that criteria only we got the waiver. I think instead of talking about criteria with respect to our bid, our credentials and our track record should be discussed,” she added while addressing a press conference highlighting her ministry’s achievements in the last two years.
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar made a two-day trip to China on June 16 and 17 to discuss India’s NSG membership with his Chinese counterpart.
This visit came days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 23 when both leaders will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation leaders’ meeting in Tashkent.
China has maintained that more talks were needed to build a consensus on which countries can join the 48-nation NSG following the United States’ push to include India in the elite group.
The countries, who oppose India’s membership, argue that its inclusion in the group would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation and also infuriate New Delhi’s rival Pakistan.
Islamabad, which enjoys the backing of its close ally China, has also responded to India’s membership bid and asked for its admission as well.
The decision on Indian membership will only be decided at the NSG plenary meeting in Seoul scheduled on June 23 and 24.
While reports surfaced that Beijing would try its best to stop India’s entry into the group, Washington has already vouched its full support during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to United States last week.
Asserting that good ties are key to solving complex issues between New Delhi and Islamabad, Sushma Swaraj also said the ‘warmth and simplicity’ that reflected in the relationship shared between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif was unprecedented.
Giving a detailed account of the progress made in the India-Pakistan relations since the NDA government assumed office, Swaraj said, “The issues involved in the relations between India and Pakistan are very complex. It is not right to expect that such issues would be solved within few meetings. But a good relationship is needed to solve issues. Never before did the relationship shared between both the Prime Ministers reflect such warmth and simplicity.”
“Simplicity was evident when Prime Minister Modi visited Lahore to meet Nawaz Sharif on his birthday, while he was on his way back to Delhi from Kabul,” she added.
The EAM said there was a stark difference in the way Pakistan responded before and after the Pathankot terrorist attack.
“You will see that there was a difference in Pakistan’s reaction after the Pathankot attack as compared to its reaction after other attacks. Earlier, after every terrorist attack, Pakistan used to slip into a denial mode,” she said.
She said that earlier, Pakistan used to out rightly reject its involvement and blame India of falsely accusing it.
“This time after the Pathankot attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called up PM Modi and said that he would take action if given the evidence. This was the major difference in their attitude after Pathankot as compared to their previous reactions,” she added.
Swaraj further said the desire to have good relationship cannot come at the cost of lack of alertness at the borders. She said that India would continue to be alert and careful to guard its interests.
“It is not that we would drop our guard or be less careful while pursuing relationship with Pakistan. We are alert and careful. Both Home Ministry and Defence Ministry are doing their duties well,” she added.
Asserting that there are forces that want to disrupt the relationship between the two nations, the Minister spoke of the three-pronged approach adopted by the government since assuming office.
“I will tell you the policy we have adopted towards Pakistan. This will clear all the questions. The moment we took over government we formulated a three point agenda towards Pakistan,” she said.
“First is that, we want to solve all issues with dialogue. Secondly, is that there would only be two parties in the dialogue – India and Pakistan. No third party can be a part of it. And, thirdly, terror and talk cannot go hand-in-hand,” she added.