ndia and China “cannot afford” to have differences on terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told President Xi Jinping, and raised the need to designate Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist at the U.N. directly in a meeting just ahead of the BRICS summit in Goa, while also pushing India’s case for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
“No country is immune from terrorism, and we cannot afford to have differences on the issue,” said MEA officials detailing Mr. Modi’s meeting with Mr. Xi, their third bilateral in four months. “PM Modi said India and China must increase their coordination on the U.N. Security Council 1267 committee (on terror sanctions) and look for common ground, while building a long term road map on countering terrorism,” added MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
The reference to Azhar, the terror group leader based in Pakistan, by Mr. Modi is the most direct attempt by India to pin China to a commitment after it decided to extend a technical hold on Azhar’s designation at the U.N. Earlier this week the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that there were “still different views on India’s listing application” in the case. China now has to decide by December 31, 2016 whether to release the hold and allow Azhar to be brought under sanctions, or to convert the hold into a veto of India’s submission holding the JeM leader responsible for several attacks including the Pathankot airbase attack. The special envoys of both countries State Councillor Yang Jiechi and NSA Ajit Doval will meet soon, officials said, and are expected to discuss the issue further.
When asked if President Xi had given any indication China was willing to move from its stand, officials said that China is “well aware of India’s concerns”. “Mr. Xi said that terrorism is a global problem, but it is specifically a regional scourge, and fighting terrorism together will be to the benefit of the Asian region,” said Indian Ambassador to Beijing Vijay Gokhale. Signifying the importance of the issue, Mr. Modi raised the Azhar designation demand with South African President Jacob Zuma whom he met after the meeting with Mr. Xi, officials said.
India, China discuss NSG membership issue
Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi also discussed India’s hopes for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, and although officials didn’t report any major shift in China’s opposition, they described as “hopeful” the process set into motion of meetings between the two nuclear negotiators of the countries. Amandeep Singh Gill , Joint Secretary (disarmament) had met Chinese official Wang Qun in Delhi in September 2016, and officials said Mr. Xi announced there would be a second meeting “soon”. Shortly after the last meeting, the Chinese embassy had issued a statement recommending a two-step process at the NSG, to first discuss the criteria for non-signatories to the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty like India and Pakistan, before discussing their membership. India has been hopeful of a special meeting of the NSG members in November, where its application will be taken forward.
Mr. Xi is understood to have raised other outstanding issues including addressing the trade imbalance between both countries, even as both leaders noted that investment and trade had registered a “significant increase”. “We are coordinating more closely and and speaking more frankly to each other,” the MEA spokesperson said summing up the 45-minute meeting on Saturday evening.