Chinese envoy : Willing to discuss ‘possibilities’ of India joining elite nuclear club

BEIJING: On Monday, a senior Chinese diplomat said, holding out an olive branch ahead of a summit in India, China is willing to discuss “possibilities” with India on its bid to become a fully fledged member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group+ (NSG).

Narendra Modi is campaigning to join the NSG to back a multi-billion-dollar drive to build nuclear power plants in partnership with France, the United States and Russia, and reduce India’s reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

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It had held “substantive” talks with China on its attempt to join the NSG+ , a 48-member grouping of countries that trades in civil nuclear technology, India last month said.

Vice-foreign Minister Li Baodong said new NSG members needed to be agreed upon by all existing members. Speaking to reporters ahead of a visit to India this week by Chinese President Xi Jinping for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging nations.

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“These rules were not set by China,” Li said. (China) is willing to have further communications with the Indian side, to increase consensus, On the issue of joining the NSG, India and China have all along had very good communications.

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty+ (NPT) recognizes the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – France, Britain, the United States, China and Russia – as nuclear weapons powers but not others.

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Li said, without elaborating, China is willing to jointly explore all kinds of possibilities with India, but this must accord with the charter of the NSG, and certain rules need to be respected by all sides.

Xi will also visit Bangladesh and Cambodia on his Asian trip.

India was granted an NSG waiver in 2008 that allows it to engage in nuclear commerce, but deprives it of a vote in the organisation’s decision making. India has ruled out signing the NPT but says its track record of non-proliferation should entitle it to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Backers of India’s NSG bid, who include the United States, hope a deal can be reached despite a setback at the group’s annual meeting in Seoul in June.

The BRICS+ group of emerging nations include Russia, Brazil, China, India and South Africa.