Noting that the upcoming Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) plenary meeting on June 23 in Seoul is only to deliberate on the entry application of countries that are state parties to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), China said that it hopes to further discuss the issue and added that it will play a constructive role in the discussions.
"Deliberation on the entry of specific countries is on the agenda of the Seoul plenary meeting. However, it is worth noting that the meeting is only to deliberate on the entry application of countries that are state parties to the NPT," the office of the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said.
It, however, made it clear that the agenda of Seoul plenary meeting circulated by the chair does not include the entry of non-NPT countries in the group.
"As for the entry of non-NPT countries, the group has never put that on its meeting agenda. Based on what we have at hand, the agenda of this year's Seoul plenary meeting circulated by the chair does not include this issue either," the office added. It further clarified that discussions on the entry application of non-NPT countries has not been blocked.
"The NSG has never put the entry application of non-NPT countries on its agenda. So it makes no sense to say that discussions are blocked," it said.
The spokesperson's office revealed that the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers' Group had three unofficial discussions on various issues related to the entry of non-NPT countries through the Friends of Chair platform, which was presided over by the Argentine Ambassador.
"Although parties are yet to see eye to eye on this issue, such discussions help them better understand each other. China hopes to further discuss this issue and will play a constructive role in the discussions," the office added. China, till now, has been playing the role of a dampener on the issue of clearing the way for India's admission to the NSG by repeatedly stating that it is not on the agenda of the grouping, which began its plenary session in Seoul on Monday.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier insisted that China is not blocking India's entry to the NSG, but is talking about the criteria and procedures. With India leaving no stone unturned to ensure its entry into the group, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan capital, Tashkent, on Thursday in an attempt to win Beijing's support for India's membership.
Highly placed sources said that the meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping would be an exclusive one-on-one discussion, where the top agenda would be to seek China's support for India's membership in the NSG.
On the other hand, the United States has called on the participating governments of the NSG to support India's application for membership. The plenary discussion on the matter will be held in Seoul tomorrow and the final meeting in which India and Pakistan's fate in the NSG would be decided will take place on Thursday.