WASHINGTON: The United States has warned against the risk of a nuclear conflict in South Asia, as China on Sunday called for more talks on India’s application seeking membership of an exclusive club of nuclear suppliers.

A senior US official, however, disagreed with the suggestion that India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) would affect strategic stability in South Asia.

But the official did acknowledge the risk of a nuclear conflict in South Asia.

“We are concerned by the increased security challenges that accompany growing stockpiles and the increased risk that a conventional conflict between India and Pakistan could escalate to include nuclear use,” he said.

China strongly opposes the US move to include India in the 48-nation NSG, leading a group of such opponents that include New Zealand,Turkey, South Africa and Austria.

The NSG controls access to sensitive nuclear technology and that’s why those opposing India want New Delhi to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) before joining the group but the US is seeking an exemption for India.

The Chinese argue that if an exemption is given, it should also apply to other countries that have not signed the NPT but want to join the NSG. Both India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT but have applied for the NSG membership.

In a statement issued in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, “Large differences remain over the issue of non-NPT countries joining the NSG.”