China on Monday said it is is “willing to jointly explore” the possibility of India joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an effort it has so far treated with pessimism. The comments were made by the country’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong, Reuters reported. Li was holding a press briefing on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India for the BRICS – Brazil Russia India China South Africa – summit in Goa on October 16.

Li said all the existing members of the NSG need to agree on new members, as it operates by consensus, and that the rules were not set by China. "On the issue of joining the NSG, China and India have all along had very good communications, and [China] is willing to have further communications with the Indian side, to increase consensus," he said.

He added, “China is willing to jointly explore all kinds of possibilities with India, but this must accord with the charter of the NSG, and certain rules need to be respected by all sides.”

The NSG is an international group comprising 48 countries that monitor the export of materials or technology that can be used to create nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been attempting to gather support for India’s bid to join the group, but has faced resistance from a number of countries, in particular China. China has been claiming India is not a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a prerequisite for membership to the NSG.