India asserts its NSG membership can be no gift

New Delhi, Jan 19 (IANS) Following China’s statement that India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) cannot be a “farewell gift” to the outgoing US President Barack Obama, India on Thursday made it clear that it is not seeking membership in the grouping as a gift.

“Our views on India’s membership of the NSG are clear and have been stated on many occasions before,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a media briefing here.

“India is not seeking NSG membership as a gift. India is seeking it on its non-proliferation record. I of course cannot speak for other applicants,” he said.

The statement by China, which has been consistently opposing India’s membership to the elite club, came after US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal described China as an “outlier” in the process of letting India join the nuclear trade bloc.

“Regarding India’s application to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, regarding non-NPT countries admission to the NSG, we have made our position clear before so I will not repeat it,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a media briefing in Beijing on Monday.

“I just want to point out that NSG membership shall not be some kind of farewell gift for countries to give to each other,” Hua said, referring to Obama who will be succeeded by Donald J. Trump on Friday.

The US administration, under Obama, strongly backed India’s membership in the 48-member NSG, which regulates global nuclear trade.

China, a close friend of Pakistan, has opposed India’s entry into the grouping, which has been an irritant in Sino-Indian ties.

Beijing objects to New Delhi’s inclusion in the bloc, citing India’s non-signatory status to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

It argues that if New Delhi can be allowed an exception why not its “all-weather ally” Pakistan.

–IANS

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