New Delhi: Japan on Tuesday strongly supported India's bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and said it was working with the Indian government to garner support from other countries ahead of the bloc's crucial plenary meeting.
"I hope that India will be the part of the NSG. Japan is working with India to make sure that it becomes a member of the NSG. We are talking to Indian government on how India can get more support from other countries," Kenji Hiramatsu, Japan's envoy to India, said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to pay a "reciprocal" visit to Japan this year, adding no date has been finalised. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had visited India in December last year.
On finalising the nitty-gritty relating to the broad agreement for cooperation in civil nuclear energy between India and Japan, inked in December last year, the envoy said both countries were working on it and that there was no "road blocks" or any "major pending issues", He, however, did not give any time line.
India has planned a major expansion of its nuclear energy sector and membership of the NSG, currently comprising 48 nations, will help it trade in and export nuclear technology.
Switzerland, a key member of the NSG had yesterday said it will support India's application after Modi held talks with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann.
India's application is expected to be taken up for discussion by the NSG at its plenary meetings on June 9 in Vienna and June 24 in Seoul. China has been opposing India's bid arguing that it was not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country's vote against India will scuttle its bid.
On the Indo-Japan nuclear pact, the Japanese envoy said, "I don't see any road block. It is a technical review. There is no major pending issues."
He was delivering a lecture on "Challenges and Prospects of Japan's Diplomacy in the context of India-Japan relationship", organised by the Observer Research Foundation.
Asked when Japanese Parliament will approve the nuclear agreement with India so that the final deal could be signed, he said, "We don't know when that will happen."
India and Japan had sealed a broad agreement for cooperation in civil nuclear energy during Abe's visit here last year. It was said the final deal would be signed after certain technical and legal issues are thrashed out.
Emphasising that the tri-lateral Malabar naval exercise among Japan, US and India is important for "strategic and safety reasons" in the Indo-Pacific region, Kenji hoped that cooperation among the three countries will more "meaningful".
Asked about implementation of the Indo-Japan pacts on transfer of defence equipment and technology, the envoy said the two sides are in the process of identifying projects for transfer of technology....