China not prepared to engage with India on nuke issues: Saran

"China's approach remains that according to a UNSC resolution, India is not a nuclear weapon state, it should first eliminate nuclear weapon and join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty," he said in reply to a query after delivering a lecture at the Institute of South Asian Studies of Singapore.

The former envoy said despite India's best efforts, Beijing was not prepared to engage with New Delhi on the nuclear issue.

Perhaps, China wants to use the issue of giving India status of a nuclear weapon state as a bargaining chip during negotiations between the two countries, he said.

"Even during the Shanghai dialogue and track two diplomacy between India, Pakistan and China, the Chinese officials maintain silence, not making any comments when India and Pakistan discuss nuclear related issues," he said.

Saran suggested that for nuclear non-proliferation treaty to be successful, it should be integrally linked to global nuclear disarmament.

Saran was in Singapore to deliver a lecture on "Is Asia Becoming a Militarised Region: Implications for Regional Security".

Elaborating on the region, he said that military expenditure is on the rise across Asia, especially focusing on maritime security for protecting sea-borne trade.

Even if miscellaneous expenses such as salaries, cost of uniform, and movement of troops are excluded from the overall defence expenditure, the actual investment for weaponry and upgrading of equipment is increasing, he said.

Saran said a major portion of incremental defence expenditure across Asia is on the maritime sector and enhancing missile capabilities.

He said dependence on sea-borne trade for economic growth was the primary reason for Asian countries to enhance their naval profile.

Saran pointed out that share of seaborne trade in Asia's Gross Domestic Producthas increased to 90 per cent now from 47 per cent in 1996, reflecting the need to secure sea-lanes.

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