India sees John Key's comments, coming as they do before an NSG consultative group meeting in Vienna next month, as 'a step forward'
New Delhi: New Zealand on Wednesday signalled a break in ranks with China and other so-called ‘hold-out’ countries opposed to India’s membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group.
In New Delhi on a three-day visit, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said he had “detailed" talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on India’s application for membership of the NSG, which controls global nuclear commerce.
“I acknowledge the importance to India of joining the NSG. New Zealand will continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership," Key told reporters.
India sees Key’s comments, coming as they do before an NSG consultative group meeting in Vienna next month, as “a step forward".
The dozen or so hold-out countries, including New Zealand, Ireland and Austria, seemed to favour China’s position that the NSG must first fix definite criteria for the admission of countries such as India that haven’t signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
This held up India’s membership at an NSG meeting in Seoul in June. India argues its push for NSG membership is tied to a need for clean energy and climate change commitments.
“We are encouraged by the discussions on the NSG issue. New Zealand showed understanding of India’s clean energy needs and the importance of predictability in global rules on nuclear commerce in enabling the expansion of nuclear energy in India," a person familiar with the development said.
“New Zealand conveyed that it would be constructively engaged on India’s membership of the NSG and would work with the others in the NSG," the person said.
Modi, on his part, thanked Key for his “constructive approach" on the subject.
The countries also agreed to a series of measures to upgrade cooperation that included the establishment of a ministerial dialogue between two foreign ministries, annual foreign ministry consultations and a dialogue on cybersecurity.
On trade, a priority item for New Zealand, Modi said both countries recognized the need for greater economic engagement. “I would like to mention food processing, dairy and agriculture, and related areas in their supply chain as some of the areas of particular potential for bilateral cooperation," Modi said, adding the two governments had “agreed to work closely towards an early conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement."
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