NEW DELHI: Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Beijing last week to discuss Chinese support for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Indian diplomatic sources confirmed on Sunday, according to a report on The Hindu.
Indian Foreign Office Spokesman Vikas Swarup said Jaishankar had discussed "all major issues, including India’s membership to the NSG during his visit to Beijing" on his visit to Beijing from June 16-17.
A meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping may also be on the cards at an upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan this week.
The NSG is a 48-nation club dedicated to curbing nuclear arms proliferation by controlling the export and re-transfer of materials that could foster nuclear weapons development.
The group's membership has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty but India has refused to do so.
India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, even though India has developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.
Opponents argue that granting it membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation.
China has led the opposition to a push by the United States (US) and other major powers for India to join the main club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology,
Last week, Indian media quoted a state-run Chinese daily as saying a US-backed move to make India a member of the NSG will be good neither for Pakistan nor for China, and would set off nuclear instability in South Asia.
The paper’s op-ed commentary, titled "India mustn’t let nuclear ambitions blind itself", feared that New Delhi’s NSG membership would set off a nuclear confrontation in the region.
Earlier this month, a New York Times (NYT) editorial said India's membership of NSG is "not merited until the country meets the group's standards".
If India is successful in gaining entry to the group, it could keep Pakistan from gaining membership because group decisions are made through consensus.
"That could give Pakistan, which at one time provided nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran, new incentives to misbehave," the NYT editorial said.
However, the NYT said, China's opposition to India could doom the India's bid for membership "for now".
The editorial goes on to say that India should be required to meet the NSG's standards, "including opening negotiations with Pakistan and China on curbing nuclear weapons and halting the production of nuclear fuel for bombs".