Turkey extends support for India`s full membership in NSG

Turkey has assured India of backing its bid for full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and would take up the issue with other members of the 47-nation grouping, President Pranab Mukherjee said.

PTI| Updated: Oct 08, 2013, 16:45 PM IST

On Board Special Air India: Turkey has assured India of backing its bid for full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and would take up the issue with other members of the 47-nation grouping, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday.

Returning from his two nation visit of Belgium and Turkey, Mukherjee, who had flagged the issue during his talks with leaders of both countries, told reporters, "I briefed the Turkish leaders about India`s efforts for full membership of the four export control regimes and stressed on our impeccable record on non-proliferation.

"We agreed that Turkey and India would continue consultations and discussions on these matters. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu conveyed to me that Turkey would be supportive of India but would need to work with other NSG members on this matter."

In the recent past, Turkey has made it clear that it does not object to India`s quest for membership in the NSG but would like to see it joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a prerequisite for being part of the NSG.

India, while terming the NPT as discriminatory, has made it clear that as a responsible nuclear state, it scrupulously adheres to non-proliferation norms for which it deserves to be included as a member of the NSG and arms control regimes like MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group.

In the first leg of his visit, the President had acknowledged Belgium`s "upfront support" for creating an exception for India in NSG and had suggested that a clear public stand favouring India`s effort for becoming permanent member of four Arms Control regimes "would be in line with our excellent cooperation" with Belgium.

The NSG has 47 members, MTCR has 34 countries as its members, Wassenaar Arrangement, an order which is for the promotion of regional security, international security and stability by offering transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms, dual-use goods and technologies, has 41 members.

The Australia Group, an informal forum of countries which seeks to ensure that exports do not contribute to the development of chemical and biological weapons, has 42 members. Belgium is a member of all these groups.

Belgium and Turkey are members of all the groups. Describing his visit to Turkey as a fruitful state visit, which came after a gap of 15 years, Mukherjee said that he was "very warmly received at all places" and made a special mention about Istanbul University which awarded him a Doctorate in Political Sciences.

"I am particularly grateful to the Istanbul University, which is one of the oldest universities in the world, for having conferred on me an honorary doctorate in Political Science. This is not just a personal honour but an honour for India and all Indians," he said.

He said the two sides expressed satisfaction at the growth in economic cooperation, both in trade and investment but felt, however, that there was considerable potential to further expand this cooperation.

The two sides decided to convene soon the Joint Economic Committee in New Delhi to address all aspects of economic cooperation.

The President said that during the talks the adverse Turkish balance of trade with India was noted and it was agreed to work on means of addressing it, including through enhanced investments in India by Turkish companies and tourism exchanges.

"In this context, I briefed the Turkish leadership about our ambitious plans to invest about one trillion US dollars in infrastructure over the next five years and invited Turkish companies, which have great strengths in these areas, to participate in these projects. Indian and Turkish companies could also explore joint venture opportunities in third countries. IT was identified as a promising area for this," he said.

During his banquet speech last night, the President had said "as two emerging economies with congruent interests in several cross cutting areas, we should aim to reap the benefits of closer interaction. Our developing societies can engage across sectors; we are looking forward to enhancing academic exchanges and people-to-people contact.

"Being members of the G20, we interact closely on issues affecting the global community. We are at historical cross roads; the decisions we take today will influence the future of this relationship."

The President today said there was a significant potential for expanding cooperation in all fields and "we intend to maintain a robust dialogue towards this end across all sectors and at all levels."

The two countries also concluded on five inter-governmental agreements during the visit, for cooperation between our national broadcasters and their Turkish counterpart, on Science and Technology collaboration, on cooperation between our medium and small-scale industries and exchanges between national archives of the two countries.

The President, who has taken up education among his top priority areas, said "I had mentioned in my remarks after the visit to Belgium, my effort to promote the level of research and innovation in our academic institutions.

"I am happy that four prominent Indian universities concluded six MoUs with their counterparts in Turkey with a view to promoting faculty, student and research exchanges."