Foreign secretary S. Jaishankar made a secret visit to China last week to lobby support for India’s admission into the exclusive Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup on Sunday said that Jaisankar had made a two-day visit on 16-17 June to Beijing.
This comes in the face of vocal opposition from China on India’s admission into the NSG that controls global nuclear commerce.
India has already been endorsed by key countries like the US, the UK, Japan, Switzerland and Mexico.
In the case of China, President Pranab Mukherjee during a visit between 24-28 May to China had lobbied with his Chinese counterpart president Xi Jinping for India’s entry into the NSG seeking Xi’s “personal” attention in the matter.
However, signals from Beijing seemed to suggest that China was opposed to India’s membership with the Asian giant voicing its concerns about a a country that is not signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty could be a member of the NSG. A preliminary NSG meeting in Vienna on 9-10 June ended inconclusively.
However with the NSG plenary to meet in Seoul on 23-24 June, India has been trying to persuade China not to stand in the way of India’s admission.
According to people familiar with the development, Jaishankar conveyed to the Chinese that India would not stand in the way of any other country joining the NSG—i.e. Pakistan.
According to Western diplomats based in New Delhi, China has been pushing Pakistan’s membership. Pakistan too had put in an application to join the group despite allegations a decade ago that its nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan sold nuclear secrets on the sly to countries like North Korea.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet Chinese president Xi in Tashkent this week on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meet on 23-24 June where he is expected to push for India’s membership of the NSG.