New Zealand affirmed its constructive contribution towards India joining the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) as the two countries called for stopping cross-border terrorism while agreeing to strengthen their political, defence and security relationship.
Addressing a joint press conference here with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, visiting New Zealand Prime Minister John Key assured of his country’s “consistent support” to New Delhi’s bid to become a member of the reformed UN Security Council.
“I acknowledge the importance of India joining the NSG. New Zealand will continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership. New Zealand is committed to working with the NSG members to reach a decision and as soon as possible,” he said.
Modi, in his remarks, said terrorism was “one of the greatest challenges to global peace and security”.
“The barriers of geography do not safeguard against the threat of radicalisation and terrorism. Nations who believe in humanity need to coordinate their actions and policies to counter this threat,” he said.
He said India and New Zealand have agreed to strengthen their security and intelligence cooperation against terrorism and radicalisation, including in the domain of cyber security.
Both Modi and Key used cricket terminology to emphasise cordial ties between the two countries.
“In our ties… defensive play has given way to aggressive batting,” said Modi as Key too invoked cricketing ties and pointed to former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum playing for Indian Premier League team Gujarat Lions from Modi’s home state. New Zealand cricket team is at present on a tour of India.
Earlier in the day, Key, who arrived on Tuesday on a three day visit, was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan, where he was received by President Pranab Mukherjee and Modi. He also attended a business event in the afternoon.
A joint statement, released after the delegation-level talks between Modi and Key, said the two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation to combat the full spectrum of terrorist threats in all their forms and manifestations.
“They called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping cross-border terrorism,” the statement said.
India has been accusing Pakistan of supporting cross-border terrorism. Relations between the two neighbouring countries have got strained following terror attack on an army camp in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir last month. India later conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control.
Both the leaders also called for the early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to strengthen the international counter-terrorism legal framework.
Modi and Key underlined that India and New Zealand were both maritime nations with a strong interest in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions being stable and prosperous, including by ensuring the safety and security of sea lanes and freedom of navigation.
The two countries agreed to establish a bilateral ministerial dialogue through annual meetings, in either country or on the margins of regional or global gatherings.
They also agreed to hold annual foreign ministry consultations and continue negotiations for a Customs Cooperation Arrangement.
India stressed that NSG membership would provide the predictability necessary for meeting its clean energy goals in the context of the Paris climate change agreements.
Sources said that New Zealand showed understanding of India’s clean energy needs and the importance of predictability in global rules on nuclear commerce in enabling the expansion of nuclear energy in India.
The outcomes during Key’s visit included an arrangement regarding food safety cooperation and third Protocol to the Convention for avoidance of double taxation.
The bilateral trade is now worth $1.8 billion in goods & services annually, which was an increase of 42 percent in the past five years.
The prime ministers said that the two countries were committed to continue to work towards a balanced bilateral Free Trade Agreement, while also agreeing to work towards comprehensive outcome to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations, of which both countries are parties.
At the business event, Key said there was enormous potential of bilateral trade. He pointed out that New Zealand has a Free Trade Agreement with China and does “eight times more trade with China than it does with India”.