Beijing: China on Wednesday said that it will play a "constructive" role in the discussions on India's bid for joining the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers group (NSG) but at the same time maintained that the issue was not on the agenda of the scheduled meeting in Seoul.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said that NSG members had three rounds of unofficial discussions on the entry of India and Pakistan into the grouping.
"China hopes to discuss further this issue and will play a constructive role in the discussions," she said.
"Although parties are yet to see eye-to-eye on this issue, such discussions help them better understand each other," she said.
At the same time, Hua said the entry of India and Pakistan is not on the agenda of the NSG grouping's meeting in Seoul.
"Deliberation on the entry of specific countries is on the agenda of the Seoul Plenary meeting. However, it is worth noting that the NSG Plenary meeting in Seoul is only to deliberate on the entry of members who signed the NPT," she said.
"As for the entry of non-NPT countries, the group has never put that on its meeting agenda. Based on what we have at hand, the agenda of this year's Seoul Plenary Meeting circulated by the Chair does not include this issue either," she said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has been singing different tunes, first saying that it was not targeting any country such as India or Pakistan and then taking a swipe at the US for backing India's case citing the rule that countries which have not signed the NPT should not be allowed into NSG.
President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent beginning from Thursday during which India is expected to seek China's support for membership of the NSG.
The two leaders would be meeting on the sidelines of the SCO summit in the capital city of Uzbekistan. During his meeting with Xi, Modi is expected to seek China's support for India's bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which Beijing is keen on blocking.
China had on Tuesday said the "door is open" for discussions on the issue but then emphasised on whether criteria for memberships should be changed instead of making exceptions. In other words, China is seeking to equate India with its impeccable non-proliferation record with that of Pakistan for which it is batting.
The US, which has been supporting India's NSG bid, has said New Delhi is "ready" for NSG membership and asked participating governments to support its application at the plenary session of NSG in Seoul.
With PTI inputs