Foreign Secretary in Seoul for final push to India's NSG membership bid

Seoul/New Delhi: Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar on Monday arrived in the South Korean capital ahead of the crucial NSG Plenary from tomorrow, where India is hoping to clinch membership which is being strongly opposed by China and some other countries.

Jaishankar, who was closely monitoring the goings-on during the official-level meet of the 48-nation grouping which started on Monday, arrived in Seoul this afternoon to lobby with members to boost India's prospects of getting membership.

"While it is true that Foreign Secretary has flown to Seoul, the NSG plenary hasn't even begun yet.... This is a delicate and complex process. At this point, let us not speculate," a government source in New Delhi said.

Senior External Affairs Ministry Official Amandeep Singh Gill, in-charge of 'Disarmament & International Security' division, is already in Seoul since Monday to garner support as well as explain India's case, another source said.

Meanwhile, China continued to make ambivalent statements on India's bid for NSG membership amid clear indications that it was unrelenting in its opposition.

Clubbing India and Pakistan once again, the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing said members of Nuclear Suppliers Group have had three round of unofficial discussions on the membership of the two countries. China is seeking to equate India's impeccable non-proliferation record with that of Pakistan for which it is batting.

The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country's vote against India will scuttle its bid.

While majority of the elite group members backed India's membership, it is understood that apart from China, countries like Turkey, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand were not in favour of India's entry into the NSG.

China maintains opposition to India's entry, arguing that it has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

India has asserted that being a signatory to the NPT was not essential for joining the NSG as there has been a precedent in this regard, citing the case of France.

India is seeking membership of NSG to enable it to trade in and export nuclear technology. The access to the NSG, which regulates the global trade of nuclear technology, is expected to open up the international market for energy-starved India, which has an ambitious energy generation programme. India is looking at 63,000 MW energy requirement through nuclear programme by 2030.

The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Membership of the grouping will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.

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