Post-waiver, India seeks answers from two obstructing nations

Post-waiver, India seeks answers from two obstructing nations
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First Published: Mon, Sep 08 2008. 11 10 PM IST

Shoulder to shoulder: External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee (left), with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, before meeting in New Delhi. Mustafa Quraishi / AP
Shoulder to shoulder: External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee (left), with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, before meeting in New Delhi. Mustafa Quraishi / AP
Updated: Tue, Sep 09 2008. 09 31 AM IST
New Delhi: Two countries that tried to block India from obtaining a special waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the weekend, China and New Zealand, are now hoping India will forgive and forget and move on to forge relationships with greater width and depth.
New Zealand’s governor general Anand Satyanand arrived this morning here on a six-day visit, which will also take him to Mumbai and Hyderabad, while Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi flew into the Capital from Kolkata and went straight into back-to-back meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Shoulder to shoulder: External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee (left), with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, before meeting in New Delhi. Mustafa Quraishi / AP
There were moments on Friday as New Zealand blocked the India waiver at NSG, when Delhi mulled a cancellation of his visit. New Zealand, ultimately, fell in line and Delhi agreed to paper over the cracks, especially since the governor -general is of Indian origin. “Once New Zealand agreed, we were happy to let him come,” an official said, on condition of anonymity.
In contrast, till late this evening, a meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the Chinese foreign minister had still not been confirmed.
According to a diplomat, who sought anonymity, Yang will go sight-seeing at the National Museum if it does not come through.
Significantly, Delhi was already mounting a charm offensive to balance some of the bitterness about China’s “obstructionist tactics” at NSG articulated by national security adviser M.K. Narayanan, with Mukherjee hosting a cultural evening in Yang’s honour followed by a dinner that was attended by the political elite, including Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury.
On his part, the Chinese foreign minister continued to draw on workmanlike themes that should unite Asia’s largest powers, in comments to reporters before he left Kolkata for New Delhi.
“India and China should work shoulder-to-shoulder with each other in bringing about peace in the region,” Yang said.
But back in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu struck a discordant note that echoed the Chinese position at the weekend NSG meeting, seeking a “balance” between India’s energy needs and the goals of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Sujit Dutta, a Chinese affairs specialist at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said the Chinese want “Pakistan to get the same treatment as India on nuclear matters, which is why they keep saying that ‘all countries’ are entitled to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”.
A Chinese diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, admitted that Beijing had blocked the deal till the last moment at NSG “because the Pakistanis were on our back”.
He pointed out that India “must realise” that Beijing, ultimately, did not come in the way of the special waiver because China “wants to promote a partnership between Asia’s big powers”.
Asked why it took intervention by US President George Bush to make the Chinese change their mind, the diplomat said, “We wanted them to come out and ask us, so that everyone knows how things are.”
As for why New Zealand had tried to stop India from getting its NSG waiver, high commissioner Rupert Holborow told Mint that his country had acted in “good faith” at NSG, and that it was “in the nature of international affairs, that there is never only one relationship, or one issue at play. Countries are always seeking to balance several issues and relationships”, Holborow conceded, referring to New Zealand’s deference to the non-proliferation principle.
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“(The government) shouldn’t be changing its policy to not supply to countries that are not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” said Australian trade minister Simon Crean. “India understands that.” AFP
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“The NSG clearance has now instilled confidence of business opportunities worth Rs1.20 trillion in the next 15 years,” industry lobby group Confederation of Indian Industry said on Saturday.
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China welcomes lifting of embargo
Beijing: China said on Monday the lifting of a nuclear trade embargo on India reflected the right of all nations to use atomic energy peacefully, while expressing hope it would help non-proliferation efforts.
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China had expressed concerns over lifting the ban since India, which had been denied access to civilian nuclear technology because it tested a nuclear weapon in 1974, is not a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. AFP
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First Published: Mon, Sep 08 2008. 11 10 PM IST