Saturday, Sep 22, 2018 | Last Update : 01:32 AM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held talks with visiting New Zealand Prime Minister John Key after which the latter said his country would be “constructively engaged on India’s membership of
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held talks with visiting New Zealand Prime Minister John Key after which the latter said his country would be “constructively engaged on India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)”.
Mr Key said New Zealand will also work with other nations in the 48-member NSG on India’s membership, but there was no categorical assurance that it supported India’s entry.
In a joint statement, both sides said: “New Zealand acknowledged the importance to India of it joining the NSG... India acknowledged the importance to New Zealand of a strong non-proliferation and disarmament regime.”
The statement reflected each other’s interests and concerns. The discussions on the NSG issue were crucial particularly since New Zealand was reported to have had reservations on India’s NSG membership bid at the Seoul meet a few months ago, where India failed to secure membership despite a strong attempt.
While also agreeing to strengthening ties in key areas of trade, defence and security, the two sides inked pacts that included one for avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion on income tax. The issue of terrorism also figured prominently during talks between the two leaders in the context of India’s concerns on cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
Mr Key said New Zealand will continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership, and is committed to working with NSG members to reach a decision as soon as possible.
India reiterated its commitment to total elimination of all weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons. Pending the global elimination of nuclear weapons, India will uphold global non-proliferation and work with partners such as New Zealand to advance nuclear disarmament, the Indian government said.
“I am also thankful to Prime Minister Key for New Zealand’s constructive approach to the consideration of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Mr Modi said.
Indian government sources said the country is “encouraged by the discussions on the NSG issue” and that while “there is a process underway within the NSG on the membership issue”, New Zealand “conveyed that it would be constructively engaged on India’s membership of the NSG and would work with the others in the NSG”.
Sources also said New Zealand showed “understanding of India’s clean energy needs and the importance of predictability in global rules on nuclear commerce in enabling the expansion of nuclear energy in India.”
After talks between the two countries, it was officially announced that there was an “arrangement” in place regarding food safety cooperation, an MoU on cooperation in youth affairs and sports, among others.
On the issue of terrorism, Mr Modi said, “Terrorism remains one of the greatest challenges to global peace and security. Today, the financial, logistical and information networks of terror span the entire globe. The barriers of geography do not safeguard against the threat of radicalisation and terrorism.”