China ready to discuss India's entry into NSG but defends stand on Azhar

China had announced the extension of its "technical hold" on India's bid to get Masood Azhar

China on Monday said it is “ready” for talks with India on its entry into the NSG but defended extending a hold on India’s bid for a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar, saying Beijing is opposed to anyone making “political gains in the name of counter-terrorism”.

The statement comes ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India for BRICS Summit in Goa.

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, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong 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.

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.

While India has blamed one country, without naming China, for stalling its membership in the NSG, both the countries held talks recently to iron out differences.

Also speaking about the criticism over China’s move to stall India’s bid for a UN ban on Azhar – head of Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad, Li justified Beijing’s technical hold in the matter, saying: “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,” he said in a veiled reference to India, which is pressing for the UN ban against Azhar over his role in the Pathankot terror attack.

China had announced the extension of its “technical hold” on India’s bid to get Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN on October 1, days before it was to expire. The hold can continue for upto three months more.

Skirting any references to Pakistan, he said “all of this show that BRICS members are ready to have dialogue and communication with others. Such dialogue is transparent. It is an inclusive process and not targeted at any third party,” he said.