Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday and was believed to have taken up India’s application for the membership of a club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology.
Modi’s meeting with Xi was his first engagement after landing at the airport in Tashkent, where he was received by Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit that coincided with a key meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in Seoul.
The outcome of the meeting between Modi and Xi will determine proceedings at the two-day plenary meeting of the atomic trading club which began in Seoul on Thursday. Though some other countries like Turkey, New Zealand and South Africa have reservations over India’s membership to the 48-nation grouping, India feels their opposition will fizzle out once China takes a favourable position towards New Delhi.
Though India has stepped up diplomatic efforts to get an entry into the NSG, China has stonewalled the neighbour’s bid on the grounds that it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The group, set up in response to India’s first nuclear test in 1974, aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Ahead of his departure, the Prime Minister said India eyes positive results from its engagement at the SCO Summit. “India is glad to be a member of the SCO & looks forward to fruitful outcomes particularly in the field of economic cooperation through SCO.”
India attaches great importance to ties with Central Asia and always seeks to expand economic and people-to-people ties with the region, he said.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is a Euro-Asian political and security grouping increasingly seen as a counterweight to Nato.
India and Pakistan will be formerly inducted into the China-dominated group during the Tashkent summit. Membership will give India access to major gas and oil exploration projects in Central Asia.
But, the NSG is different. Beijing says it needs more discussions on countries such as India that have not signed the NPT. The NSG works on the principle of consensus and a single hold-out country can spoil India’s chance to be part of the grouping.
India has got the backing of most countries, including the US, Britain, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland and Russia and France. Opponents argue that granting India membership will undermine efforts to prevent proliferation and irk Pakistan, an ally of China that has also applied for a membership.
With HTC inputs from New Delhi