Chinese foreign minister dodges queries on NSG


Kolkata : Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi Sunday parried queries about his country’s stand during the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) meet in Vienna where the 45-nation bloc agreed by consensus to alter its guidelines for India, ending New Delhi’s 34-year nuclear isolation.

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Responding to questions by reporters here on the NSG meet, Yang said: “Your foreign minister (Pranab Mukherjee) is a good friend of mine. You will have all the answers tomorrow (Monday), when I meet him.”

Reports from Vienna suggested that China, which initially refrained from saying much on the India-specific waiver from the NSG, started playing an “active role” to try to block a consensus before the nuclear cartel decided to give India the waiver Saturday.

According to some media reports, when just three countries – Austria, Ireland and New Zealand – were still opposing a clean waiver for India Friday night, the Chinese delegation saw a chance in blocking the waiver by asking the NSG not to hurry up the reports. It finally took a telephone call from US President George Bush to Chinese President Hu Jintao to melt Beijing’s reluctance to the NSG waiver.

National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan was quick to react after reports of Beijing’s role in the NSG reached here. “The Chinese foreign minister will come here… and we will of course express disappointment. We will say we did not expect this from China,” Narayanan told the Times Now channel.

Yang arrived in the city Sunday evening to inaugurate the Chinese Consulate in Kolkata, the second in India after Mumbai.

He was given a grand welcome at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, where members from the Chinese conmmunity from China Town in the eastern part of the city were present in strength and gave a fine display of dragon dance.

Yang described the opening of the consulate as a good omen, saying: “This shows China’s sincerity towards building friendship with India.”

Stressing the need for good relations between the two neighbours, he said: “China and India should live in friendship and harmony”, and recalled the support and sympathy extended by both countries toward each other during the struggles for national independence and liberation.

In recent years, India-China ties have maintained a sound momentum and all round growth, he noted.

“The two countries have established strategic and cooperative partnership in peace and prosperity and formulated 10-pronged strategy for deepening cooperation,” he said.

The visiting dignitary underlined China’s willingness to work with the Indian government to further expand friendly exchanges in all spheres, besides adding more substance to the China-India strategic partnership.

“China and India will work together for world development, peace and progress. We will work even harder to make sure our economic culture and other areas of cooperation further blossom,” he said.

“The purpose of my visit here is to further the strategic, cooperative relationship between China and India,” he added.

Yang also spent half an hour at Raj Bhavan, where he met Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

The Chinese foreign minister is scheduled to meet Pranab Mukherjee Monday in New Delhi.