India announced on Sunday it would not oppose any other country’s entry into the elite Nuclear Supplier’s Group, a clear indication to Pakistan’s bid to join the group.
”India won’t protest entry of any nation in NSG but would want application be considered on merit,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a news briefing held to mark the NDA government’s two years in power.
She also claimed that “China is not opposed to India’s entry, but insists on criteria”.
“China is not opposing membership of India in NSG, it is only talking of criteria and procedure. I am hopeful that we would be able to convince China as well to support our entry to the NSG,” she told a press conference here while highlighting her ministry’s achievements in the last two years.
“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, adding, “The NSG entry is crucial for India’s energy policy.”
“I am perosnally in touch with 23 nations. Although 1– 2 have voiced concerns, I think there is consensus.”
She also said India was trying to make sure that it could be part of the group by the end of the year.
Although most countries in the 48-member Nuclear Supplier’s Group — prominent among them the US — have agreed to India’s entry, some — among them China, New Zealand, Austria, Turkey and South Africa — have objected to allowing non-signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty from entering the group.
Pakistan has also opposed India’s entry arguing that the two nations must be treated equally.
Earlier this week, China’s official media said India’s NSG membership would “jeopardise” China’s national interests besides touching a “raw nerve” in Pakistan. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had said a week back that members of the NSG “remain divided” on the issue of non-NPT countries joining it and called for “full discussions”.
‘Peace in SCS’
She also said India wanted a peaceful settlement of the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.
Although China claims most of the key waterways that is passage to trade worth a total of $5 trillion annually, Philippines, Brunei, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam have opposing claims, leading to frequent military and diplomatic standoffs.
‘Terror and talks can’t go together’
Swaraj said India and Pakistan relations were complicated due to “cross-border terrorism”, even while she claimed there was a “sehejta” (simplicity) in the chemistry involving Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan.
“This warmth and simplicity in relations between two Prime Ministers were never there in the past,” she said.
While pursuing with the commitment for friendship, the government won’t compromise on issues of national security. India, she said, remained firm in its resolve that talks and terrorism cannot go together.
“We are awaiting solid action from Pakistan’s side on Pathankot attack. Pakistan has not rejected the proposal for NIA visit, has sought some more time,” Swaraj said.
“We have difficult issues to resolve with Pakistan. There is ease and warmth in the relations between the two countries at present,” Swaraj.
The minister denied that South Asia was not getting adequate priority in the Modi government’s foreign policy.
“In the last two years, India has emerged as a strong supporter and a friend in crisis to neighbouring countries,” she said, referring to New Delhi’s help to Nepal during the massive earthquake of 2015.
‘12 Indian sailors freed’
Twelve Indian sailors, who were in jail in Italy since June 2014 on allegations of possessing drugs, have been freed, Swaraj said.
“I appreciate Indian Embassy in Rome for the release of 12 Indian sailors on board MV ‘Aberdeen’ who were in jail in Italy since June 2014,” Swaraj said.
The Indian sailors had been arrested from aboard a ship seized by Italian police in June 2014, and were accused of possessing a huge quantity of drugs.
On the issue of threats to Hindus in Bangladesh, she said the Sheikh Hasina govermment had been taking adequate steps and had so far arrested as many as 3,000 suspects.
“More than that, I feel happy to say that even Islamic leaders in Bangladesh have condemned such threats to Hindus in that country,” she said.
India’s relationship with its western neighbour has remained strained despite repeated tries, with the latest round of peace talks between the two nations being halted after a militant attack on an air base of the Indian Air Force in Pathankot in January.
India frequently accuses Pakistan of not doing enough to contain terrorist organisations on its soil. — Agencies