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India�s NSG bid faces China wall

By The Assam Tribune

BEIJING, June 21 - China today continued to stonewall India�s bid for NSG membership despite a fresh push by the US as the 48-nation grouping remained divided over the entry of a non-NPT signatory country like India.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry sang different tunes, first saying that it was not targeting any country such as India or Pakistan and then taking a swipe at the US for backing India�s case citing the rule that countries which have not signed the NPT should not be allowed into NSG.

The Chinese comments came after the White House said India was �ready� for NSG membership and asked participating governments to support India�s application at the plenary session of NSG in Seoul two days from now.

At the same time, Beijing said the �door is open� for discussions on the issue but then emphasised on whether criteria for memberships should be changed instead of making exceptions. In other words, China is seeking to equate India with its impeccable non-proliferation record with that of Pakistan for which it is batting.

Given this scenario and continued Chinese opposition, it is very likely that a consensus on India�s membership will elude the grouping�s plenary on June 23-24. Some 20 members are said to be backing India, some are undecided and some are opposed to it.

New Delhi is closely monitoring the goings-on in the South Korean capital and may depute its Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar to lobby with members if it sees any prospect of Indian bid succeeding.

According to Indian government sources, the Foreign Secretary is watching the situation �very closely� and depending on the �feedback� from the official-level meeting of NSG ahead of the crucial plenary on Thursday and Friday in the South Korean capital, he may travel to Seoul to give a �final push�. The official-level session of NSG started yesterday.

Pakistan claim: Pakistan has �successfully� blocked India�s bid to gain membership of the NSG, Prime Minister�s advisor on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz today told the Parliament in Islamabad.

Pakistan has a strong case to gain Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership on merit and non-discriminatory basis, Aziz said in a statement. �We have been making successful efforts against India�s Nuclear Suppliers Group membership,� he said.

His remarks came ahead of the key meeting of the 48-nation NSG this week in Seoul when it will take up the applications of India and Pakistan.

Aziz also told lawmakers that Pakistan was not being isolated and its official foreign policy was being tuned to the new alignments in the world. He said Pakistan would continue to follow the policy of non-interference in affairs of other countries. � PTI

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