Setback to PM Modi’s foreign diplomacy, Many ‘friendly’ nations openly opposed India’s NSG bid

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India’s bid for the membership in the elite Nuclear Suppliers’ Group received a big setback on Thursday after many countries, perceived to be ‘friends’ openly opposed its entry in Seoul.

At the 48-member plenary meeting of the NSG in South Korean capital Seoul, countries such as, Switzerland, Brazil, Austria, Ireland, Turkey and New Zealand opposed India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, reported ANI.

Also Read | China’s snub to India, says India’s NSG membership not on agenda

Brazil was one of the first countries Modi had visited after becoming prime minister in 2014.

Describing his visit to Brazil to attend BRICS summit as pathbreaking, the prime minister’s website had said, “During their meeting at the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, both the Indian PM and the Brazilian President called for expanding bilateral ties, and stress on the need for reform of the United Nations.

“Describing Brazil as a key global partner for India, PM noted that as two democracies and major emerging economies, India and Brazil not only had vast potential for bilateral cooperation, but also to strengthen each other in international forums and advance the interest of the developing world at large.”

Modi had visited Turkey in November last year, when the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan released a stamp bearing photo of Modi and the Indian tricolour.

The stamp of 2.80 Turkish lira bearing a picture of Modi and the Indian national flag had ‘Narendra Modi – Prime Minister of Republic of India’ written at the bottom.

Many billed this as a sign of beginning of a new chapter in the bilateral ties in India and Turkey. This may have led Modi to be confident of Turkey’s support in the NSG for India’s application. But, Turkey too opposed its entry on Thursday.

Modi had held long talks with New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key early last year in Washington. Soon after his talks with Key, Modi had tweeted, “Discussing stronger India-New Zealand ties with @johnkeypm.”

The development in Seoul confirmed that the Indian prime minister’s optimism was one-sided and it lacked reciprocity from the Kiwis.

Modi visited Ireland in September 2015 en route to the United States. In his meeting with the Irish prime minister,  Enda Kenny , Modi had specifically sought Ireland’s support for India’s membership of UN Security council and international export control regimes including NSG.

According to Modi, Kenny had assured Ireland’s support as and when India’s application came for discussion in the NSG. Modi had thanked Ireland for its support, which was crucial for India-specific exemption from Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in 2008.

He had said, “I have now sought Ireland’s support for India’s membership of the NSG and other international export control regimes. India’s membership will deepen our bilateral cooperation and strengthen international non-proliferation efforts.”

Mexico, where Modi visited earlier this month backed India’s membership on Wednesday.

Since the NSG works on consensus approach, even one country’s vote against India will dash its hopes of joining the elite group of nations.

Quoting sources, ANI reported that the meet also did not discuss the induction of Pakistan into the elite group.

The countries including China are adamant on opposing India’s entry arguing that it was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, something which is mandatory for any new country to join the club.

Elsewhere, Prime Minister Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Tashkent.

He urged China to make a fair and objective assessment of New Delhi’s application to the NSG and to judge it on its own merit.

Briefing the media about the meeting, Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Vikas Swarup said Prime Minister Modi had asked China to contribute to the emerging consensus in the ongoing NSG plenary meeting in Seoul.

“In fact the rest of the meeting was devoted to this issue. Prime Minister Modi urged China to make a fair and objective assessment of India’s application and judge it on its own merit,” Swarup said.

Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar on Wednesday left for Seoul to make a last minute push for New Delhi’s entry into the elite group.

According to sources, this move is being seen as a final push on India’s part to make its case. Jaishankar, who is not a part of the negotiations in the NSG’s inner circle, will reportedly lobby for India’s bid.

This comes days after Jaishankar made a two-day trip to China on 16 and 17 June to discuss the matter with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

China’s support holds importance in view that it is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and holds a ‘veto’ which, if it chooses to use, will spoil India’s efforts.