As expected, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee raised the issue of New Delhi’s NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) membership bid during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday.

The visiting Indian leader sought Chinese president’s intervention in quest for NSG membership, saying that people of China should not forget that India had given “constant public support” to its northern neighbour for its entry into the UN. He also said that India had openly backed China’s demand for a permanent UN Security Council seat decades ago. According to Mukherjee, India, which is eager to become a NSG member, expects the same from China. The visiting president told his host that the two Asian neighbours would have to “remain sensitive to mutual concerns” in order to make progress, and maintain peace and stability in the region.

The Indian Head of State claimed that New Delhi’s friendship with Beijing has always visibly endured, as India recognised the People’s Republic of China in December 1949 before establishing diplomatic ties in April 1950. Even China enjoyed India’s constant support through the ’60s and ’70s during its admission to the UN, added Mukherjee.

The Indian president once again requested his Chinese counterpart to take “personal attention” on New Delhi’s attempt to balance its nuclear energy needs and climate change, saying that the South Asian nation is well aware of its “responsibilities” as a nuclear power. He told President Xi that India had never looked for “help” from any country to boost its “strategic nuclear” needs.

Although President Mukherjee did not ask President Xi to review Beijing’s decision to block New Delhi’s efforts to get the UN adopt a resolution to censure mastermind of Pathankot airbase attack and Pakistani hard-line leader Massod Azhar, he said that India and China should work together at the world body to combat terror. The visiting Indian leader told the Chinese president that people of the two countries would have to understand the benefits of jointly addressing the global challenges and it would be possible only by forging a mutually advantageous partnership.

During their 90-minute meeting, Mukherjee expressed serious concern over the decades-old border dispute between the two countries. At the same time, he expressed hope that India and China would resolve the issue through peaceful negotiations, saying: “It was natural for neighbours to have a difference of view on certain issues from time to time. I consider it as a test of our political acumen when we are called upon to draw upon our civilisational wisdom and resolve these differences to the mutual satisfaction of both sides.”

Meanwhile, President Xi accepted his guest’s view that the Sino-Indian ties have acquired a strategic significance. He told Mukherjee: “You are a seasoned statesman and old friend of the Chinese people who has long been committed to promote friendship between China and India. I am sure your current visit will hopefully strengthen the momentum of high-level exchanges between China and India and hope to take forward our overall relations and friendly co-operation in various fields.”

The Chinese president vowed to strengthen bilateral strategic partnership, stressing that the two nations could beat the world by sticking to the theme of neighbourly friendship and reciprocal co-operation. “We are willing to work with the Indian side to carry forward the tradition of mutual learning of civilisation between the two nations, enhance the bilateral comprehensive co-operation, so as to push the China-Indian strategic partnership to a new level, promote the common development between both sides, and make greater contributions to regional and world peace and prosperity,” he further said. President Xi believes that close co-operation will help India and China consolidate political trust and address their differences. He hinted that Beijing would support New Delhi in regional and global affairs and formulate joint development strategies in future.

Mukherjee, currently on a four-day state visit to China that has already taken him to Guangzhou, held separate meetings with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders later on Thursday.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]