India's foreign secretary S Jaishankar is in South Korea to lobby for New Delhi's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) with mixed signals emerging from the main party, China. Jaishankar is in Seoul a day ahead of a plenary meeting of the NSG.
In what is seen as a final diplomatic push for India's entry into the elite group of nations, the move has shown New Delhi intends to leave no stone unturned in clinching the membership, amidst strong opposition from China and a few others.
"While it is true that the foreign secretary has flown to Seoul, the NSG plenary hasn't even begun yet. This is a delicate and complex process. At this point, let us not speculate," a top-level government source told The Hindu newspaper.
India has been intensely lobbying for a membership of the 48-member bloc with Prime Minister Narendra Modi persuading several key nations including the US, Switzerland and Mexico. Yet, many others including China are not convinced with New Delhi's bid as the country is still not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Jaishankar's visit also gains additional significance as Modi is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on 23 June when the two leaders attend a two-day summit in Tashkent.
Even if one of the 48 nations in the association, which regulates nuclear trade across the globe, is against India's bid, New Delhi's efforts will be in vain.
In the meantime, Beijing has signalled a sharp climbdown, saying it would play a "constructive role" in the NSG negotiations.
"China hopes to discuss further this issue and will play a constructive role in the discussions. Although parties are yet to see eye-to-eye on this issue, such discussions help them better understand each other," Beijing's foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the Press Trust of India. Nevertheless, the spokesperson added, that discussions on India's NSG entry are not on the agenda during the upcoming summit in the South Korean capital.
"Deliberations on the entry of specific countries are 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."