China won't abandon Azar Masood, open to talks on India's NSG bid

10 October 2016

Ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit to India, China today made it clear that it would not change its stance on Pakistani terrorist Masood Azhar even it relents in discussing India's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), adding that it does not want India to make "political gains in the name of counter-terrorism".

China's assertion comes days after the country vetoed a United Nations ban on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and ahead of the BRICS summit in Goa, in which China is participating.

Li, however, said China is "ready" for talks with India on its entry into the NSG, but harped again on the need to build consensus over the admission of new members in the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

Asked if any progress on the issue of India's admission into NSG can be expected in the meeting between Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, Li said NSG rules stipulate consensus among the members to admit new ones.

"These rules are not to be decided by China alone. On the issue, China and India have maintained good communication and we are ready to continue consultations with India to build consensus and we also hope India can go to other members of the NSG as well," Li said replying to a question on China's reservations on India's admission to the elite nuclear trading club.

"In this aspect we are also ready for discussions with India to explore possibilities but things need to be in keeping up with procedures, norms and regulations of the NSG. On this issue, China position is consistent. That is why China has often said international law must be observed," he said.

Briefing media ahead of President Xi Jinping's visit to India this week to take part in the BRICS Summit in Goa, China's vice foreign minister Li Baodong, however, added, "China is opposed to all forms of terrorism".

"There should be no double standards on counter-terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism." Li said in a veiled reference to India.

Last week also, China had used technical issues to oppose attempts to ban Azhar, saying there were "different views" on India's application. China is the lone member among the 15-member UNSC to oppose the ban on Azhar.

On criticism of China's support to terrorists and their supporters, the Chinese foreign ministry had said that the listing application member states submitted to the 1267 Committee of UN "must comply" with specific requirements of relevant resolutions of UN Security Council (UNSC).

Beijing, however, had admitted "different views" existed about India's application against Azhar, who was allegedly involved in the terrorist attack on Indian Army base in Pathankot.

China had put the first technical hold on India's application six months ago and last week extended the second technical hold valid for three months despite several consultations between New Delhi and Beijing at various levels.

It is expected to figure again during the expected meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit to be held in Goa from 15-16 October.

India has been a victim of cross-border terror threat emanating from Pakistan and tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad are on the rise since last month's Uri attack in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 19 Indian soldiers.

Xi will travel to Goa to attend the BRICS Summit scheduled to held between October 15-16. The BRICS grouping consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.

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