A lack of consensus amid strong opposition from several countries led by China thwarted India's bid for NSG membership in Seoul on Thursday night even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent to consider New Delhi's bid on its merit.
The Indian application for membership to the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group was taken up at a post-dinner special session in the South Korean capital where heads of delegation of NSG are holding a plenary, highly informed sources in Seoul told IANS.
The sources said several countries led by China opposed the idea of letting India in on the grounds that New Delhi was a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Those siding with China included Brazil, Austria, New Zealand, Turkey and Ireland.
Signing the NPT is one of the main requirements to be part of the elite club of nations that regulate global nuclear trade and technology.
China had earlier brought up Pakistan's NSG application that virtually stonewalled India's chances of getting into the bloc without signing the Non-proliferation Treaty.
China had been insisting that if any concession is given to India, the same should apply to Pakistan which has an alleged bad track record on non-proliferation after it was said to have sold atomic weapons technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.
The sources said Pakistan's application didn't come up for the discussion.
The issue of considering applications of non-NPT countries, including India, was not on the main agenda of the NSG's closed-door plenary.
But several diplomatic sources said that Japan raised the issue in the opening session. It was later decided that the matter would be discussed at the special session convened by Chairperson Rafael Grossi of Argentina.
Argentina and South Korea along with several key member nations, including the US, Britain, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, France and Russia, have been supportive of India's NSG aspirations.
Earlier, Prime Minister Modi, who met President Xi in Tashkent on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in the Uzbekistan capital, urged China to judge India's application on its "merit".
"Prime Minister Modi urged China to make a fair and objective assessment of India's application and judge it on its own merit," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup briefed reporters in Tashkent.
In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the opposition to India's membership won't impact bilateral ties between them.
"We do not believe that it is an issue concerning the bilateral relationship between China and India," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media, adding that the two countries "have agreed that we would make joint efforts to develop closely knit relationship".
Ahead of the Seoul plenary, India made hectic diplomatic efforts to secure the membership in the grouping which works on the principle of consensus and allows a new member only if all existing members agree.
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is in Seoul as part of India's diplomatic outreach to push through the NSG.
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