What’s the fuss? China says it worked for NSG waiver

September 8th, 2008 - 10:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 8 (IANS) Amid a row here over China’s perceived negative role in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an unfazed Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Monday that Beijing always “played constructive and responsible” role and “worked for consensus” in the NSG. “We worked for consensus in the NSG. We have been a responsible player,” Yang, who is on his maiden visit to India after becoming China’s foreign minister, told reporters after his talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

“We played a constructive and positive role in both IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and NSG,” he replied when asked about reports of Beijing trying to block consensus in the nuclear cartel’s meeting in Vienna.

Yang also sought to clear the air about China’s role in the NSG when Mukherjee expressed India’s “surprise” and “disappointment” at Beijing’s bid to stymie the waiver despite assurances given by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about China’s support for it.

When Yang met Manmohan Singh, he again assured the prime minister that China is interested in developing strategic and economic partnership with India, official sources said. He also stressed that China sees India as a friend, and not a rival, the sources added.

Having made India’s disappointment clear to his Chinese counterpart, Mukherjee was not keen to rub it in further.

The two ministers spoke about a spectrum of bilateral and global issues, including the boundary negotiations and the intensification of economic ties that are already growing exponentially.

Mukherjee hosted a cultural programme followed by a dinner for his Chinese guest Monday night.

An agreement on promoting partnership between the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi and the Qinghua University was also signed by the two sides.

Hours before Yang held talks with Mukherkee in the evening, the Chinese embassy issued a statement here that quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu’s comments on the NSG waiver.

“China believes that all countries are entitled to make peaceful use of nuclear energy, and conduct international cooperation in this regard,” Jiang said in response to a question on the NSG waiver for India.

“Meanwhile, relevant cooperation should be conducive to safeguarding the integrity and efficacy of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime,” Jinag added.

“China hopes that the decision will contribute to peaceful use of nuclear energy and international cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation,” she added.

Sections of the Indian establishment have been upset over China’s role at the three-day NSG meeting that ended Saturday in Vienna. China had all along assured the Indian leadership that it will not block the waiver at the NSG.

But during hectic parleys and at a critical juncture when the US was trying its best to reach a consensus among the 45 members of the NSG, China made serious attempts to put off a final decision until later.

It was only after US President George Bush and senior members of the Bush administration made phone calls and India issued a demarche to China that it agreed to go for an extended meeting and finally rallied behind others in the NSG to reach a consensus on the waiver.

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