NSG membership: Clean energy has strong bilateral dimension, says India

New Delhi, Sep 15 (IANS) After China said that the issue of India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is not a bilateral one but a multilateral one, New Delhi on Thursday said that issues like clean energy have “a strong bilateral dimension”.

“On issues such as development and clean energy or terrorism for that matter, given the positions that have been taken, there is a strong bilateral dimension,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said during his weekly press briefing here.

Stating that that was why India and China had a dialogue on the NSG membership issue here on Tuesday, Swarup said: “The understanding of the two sides is that this is both a bilateral and a multilateral issue; there is no contradiction.”

China had blocked India’s bid for NSG membership at the Seoul plenary in June on the ground that for a country to be a member of the 48-member bloc, it has to be a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

India has a strong case for membership because of its clean energy needs.

Following the talks on Tuesday led by Amandeep Singh Gill, Joint Secretary (Disarmament & International Security) in the Ministry of External Affairs and Wang Qun, Director-General of Arms Control Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China said that the issue of non-NPT states’ NSG membership was not a bilateral one but a multilateral one.

“The two sides realised that the question of the non-NPT states’ participation is, in essence, a multilateral issue, and can only be subject to multilateral solution by the Group,” Beijing said in a statement.

“Bilateral exchanges should serve to facilitate the relevant discussions within the Group.”

In his media briefing here, Swarup said that India and China in the meeting this week had a substantive and pragmatic exchange on the issue of NSG membership, which is a priority for India because of its plans for civil nuclear energy.

“On certain issues such as development and clean energy, there should not be differences between our two sides,” he said.

“The two sides are agreed that we should approach these issues with mutual sensitivity to each others’ concerns and priorities”.

Stating that exchange was useful in enhancing understanding of each other’s perspective and would be continued, the spokesperson said: “The two sides were also of the view that a process has been set in motion after the Seoul NSG plenary on the issue of membership and they should support this process.”

He stated that this could “demonstrate to the whole world that India and China approach such issues with strategic maturity and are working together to narrow and resolve any difference of view”.

“This is urgent and timely,” Swarup added.

–IANS

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