Beijing: China, which has been blocking India's NSG bid, on Tuesday maintained its tough stand on the issue and called for a two-step "non-discriminatory" solution to admit non-NPT members into the 48-member elite grouping.
China's remarks came as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at its meeting in Vienna on 11 November discussed a formula acting on India's application to join it.
"We maintain that we should follow two-step approach. First, we should find out a solution that is applicable to all non-NPT members applications to the NSG through consultations and discussions," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing in Beijing outlining China's stand at the Vienna meeting.
The second step is to discuss specific non-NPT (Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty) members' admission into the NSG, he said.
"We believe that the solution should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT members and it must not damage the core value of the NSG as well as the authority, effectiveness and integrity of the NPT," he said.
"We hope that we can enter into the second step after finishing the first step at an early date which is to talk about specific non-NPT members joining the NSG," he said.
China's stand for a non-discriminatory criteria is regarded significant as Pakistan, a close ally of Beijing too has applied for the NSG membership along with India. China, which has blocked earlier India's entry on the ground that India has not signed the NPT, has held two rounds of talks with India and Pakistan about their admission into the group.
India has secured the backing of the US and majority of the NSG members based on its non-proliferation record in comparison to Pakistan which faced serious allegations of nuclear proliferation in the past specially with regard to its nuclear scientist Dr AQ Khan.
Geng said at the Vienna meeting of the NSG, members talked about the technical, legal and political matters relating non-NPT members accession to the NSG.
He said this is the first time the group talked about entry of the new members.
Earlier a statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, "It is the first time a discussion, not only since the Seoul Plenary, but also since the NSG's inception in 1975, for the Group to formally take up the issue of non-NPT states' participation in an open and transparent manner."
Geng said the discussion about the entry of new members is a "good start".
"We believe it is good start and we will continue to support the NSG in following through on the first step and explore the final solution at an early date," he said.
India has been maintaining that NPT membership was not essential for joining the NSG, as was the case with France.