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In Tashkent, Narendra Modi urges Xi Jinping to be ‘fair’

| SRIDHAR KUMARASWAMI
Published : Jun 24, 2016, 5:50 am IST
Updated : Jun 24, 2016, 5:50 am IST

China to Pakistan: We’re ‘iron brothers’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Tashkent. (Photo: PTI)
 Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Tashkent. (Photo: PTI)

China to Pakistan: We’re ‘iron brothers’

In a last-ditch effort to press China to give its consent to India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) entry application, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday “urged” Chinese President Xi Jinping to make a “fair and objective” assessment of India’s bid.

At their crucial 50-minute bilateral meeting in the Uzbek city of Tashkent, Mr Modi, while asking that China “contribute to the emerging consensus” in favour of India’s admission to the NSG at Seoul, said that China should “judge” India’s case on its own merits. There was no official word on the Chinese reaction.

But Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, in his separate meeting with the Chinese President at Tashkent, opposed India’s entry, saying any “exception” in granting membership to the NSG will “disturb” strategic stability in South Asia. He reportedly made a case for Pakistan to join the 48-member NSG.

Perhaps in an indication of things to come, President Xi Jinping apparently told his Pakistani counterpart that Pakistan and China are “iron brothers” and that both nations enjoy an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership. In another indication earlier in the day of Chinese obstinacy, China sought to de-link its opposition to India’s membership of NSG from Sino-Indian ties, saying that it does not concern the bilateral relationship.

The plea of India that China consider India’s membership bid on its own merits is a clear indication that India wants China to delink New Delhi’s membership bid from that of Islamabad, something that the Chinese have not been willing to do so far.

Observers feel that there is very little chance of China relenting despite the Modi-Xi meeting, but add that if PM Modi manages to convince China, it would be a major diplomatic coup for India.

The final outcome and China’s decision will be known will be known only on Friday, the last day of the NSG plenary session.

Ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Vikas Swarup, when asked about China’s response at the Modi-Xi meeting, refused to comment, saying, “You know, it is a complex and delicate process. We are waiting (to see) what kind of news comes from Seoul. I will not make any more comment on this.” Mr Swarup did say that most of the time of the Modi-Xi meeting was devoted to the NSG issue.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, speaking ahead of the Modi-Xi meeting in Tashkent, said in Beijing that the China-India bilateral relations have maintained “sound momentum” and the issue of India’s admission into the NSG does not concern bilateral ties. “We believe that with regard to the admission of new members a decision shall be made with thorough discussion within the group We do not believe that it is an issue concerning the bilateral relationship between China and India.”

Following the meeting between the Pakistani and Chinese Presidents, the Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement, “The (Pakistan) President said that any exception given for NSG membership could disturb strategic stability in South Asia Both sides reiterated support to each other’s core interests and expressed their intention to maintain close coordination.”

In Seoul, About 300 participants from 48 member countries are attending the plenary which was preceded by official-level sessions that began on June 20. The US and France issued statements ahead of the plenary, strongly supporting India’s case for NSG entry and asking members to back New Delhi.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi