United States President Barack Obama on Thursday extended his support to India's campaign for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, PTI reported. Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the bilateral strategic partnership and civil nuclear cooperation on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Laos. Obama's words came as a blow to China, which has been opposing India's entry to the group.

The US president also took on Beijing by reiterating that the July 12 international tribunal ruling that rejected China's claim to the South China sea was binding, AFP reported. China's claims to the waters, which host a $5 trillion stake in international shipping trade, have been disputed by its neighbours.

However, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said the discussion on the conflict at the event was "untimely and inappropriate". Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei are some of the countries that have disputed Bejing's claims over the sea.

The US has been persistent in highlighting its concerns about Beijing’s claims over the sea and has even conducted several military drills in the region. Obama acknowledged that his statement on the issue would increase tensions in the region, but said the international ruling had specified maritime rights. China had referred to The Hague tribunal ruling as "waste paper", despite the body obtaining jurisdiction under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.