World

BEIJING/GOA – China says it is willing to discuss “possibilities” with India on its bid to become a fully fledged member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) but defends extending a hold on India’s bid for a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar, saying Beijing is opposed to anyone making “political gains in the name of counter-terrorism”.

Briefing media on Chinese President Xi Jinping visit to India this week to take part in the BRICS Summit in Goa, Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said new NSG members needed to be agreed upon by all existing members.

“These rules were not set by China”, Li said.

“On the issue of joining the NSG, China and India have all along had very good communications, and (China) is willing to have further communications with the Indian side, to increase consensus.

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“On this, 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,” the senior Chinese diplomat added.

Last month, India said 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.

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

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India has ruled out signing the NPT but says its track record of non-proliferation should entitle it to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. 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.

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.

‘No double-standards on counter-terrorism’

After talks with India, China also has held similar talks with Pakistan, which also applied for membership in the influential grouping.

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Replying to a question on criticism about China’s move to stall India’s bid for a UN ban on Azhar – head of militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad, Li sought to justify Beijing’s recent technical hold in the matter, saying: “China is opposed to all forms of terrorism.”

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“There should be no double standards on counter-terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism,” he said in a veiled reference to India, which is pressing for the UN ban against Azhar over his role in the Pathankot terror attack.

China had announced the extension of its “technical hold” on India’s bid to get Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN on October 1, days before it was to expire. The hold can continue for upto three months more.

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During today’s briefing, Li said counter-terrorism cooperation will figure in the BRICS Summit, the India Times reported.

“On counter-terrorism, it is an important area for cooperation among BRICS members for political security. Cooperation on this front will enhance BRICS communication and coordination and will contribute to world peace and security. That is quite obvious,” he said.

Li was guarded in his reply to a question about Pakistan being “kept out” of interaction between BRICS and BIMSTEC leaders in Goa. There is “no attempt to form a clique” to keep any country out, he said.

Skirting any references to Pakistan, he said “all of this show that BRICS members are ready to have dialogue and communication with others”.

“Such dialogue is transparent. It is an inclusive process and not targeted at any third party,” he said.

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“Not forming cliques to exclude any particular country. Such dialogue is an inclusive one. Hope such dialogue will enhance cooperation about BRICS countries and strengthen cooperation between BRICS and other regional organizations and regional countries,” he said.

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

China President Xi will travel to Goa to attend the BRICS Summit scheduled to held between October 15-16. He will also visit Bangladesh and Cambodia on his Asian trip.