PM embarks on five-nation tour

With an aim to bolster ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today embarked on a five-nation visit to Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico focus of which will be to enhance India’s engagement in areas of trade, energy and security, besides pushing for its membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Modi is likely to seek support of Switzerland and Mexico for India’s membership of the 48-member NSG as both these countries are key members of the elite group. The issue is likely to figure during Modi’s meeting with Obama in Washington.
India has formally applied for membership of the NSG on May 12.
“From our immediate neighbourhood to our trans-Atlantic partners. PM @narendramodi emplanes for a 5 nation tour,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with a photograph of Modi leaving for the five-day trip.
During his talks with the leadership of Switzerland, the Prime Minister is also likely to raise the issue of black money stashed by Indians in Swiss banks.
The Prime Minister’s first destination is Afghanistan where he will inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam, in Herat province today, along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Both the leaders will also hold talks on a range of issues including current situation in Afghanistan.
From Afghanistan, Modi will travel to energy-rich Qatar tomorrow itself and from there he will leave for a two-day visit to Switzerland on Sunday.
Asked at a press briefing on PM’s visit whether the issue of black money will be raised by Modi during his talks with Swiss leaders, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had said yesterday both the countries are in touch on the issue.
“We are in touch with the Swiss government under the DTAA (Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement) mandate and we have had some discussions on this and we have a few planned in the near future. We have received support from the Swiss authorities on exchange of information on tax data between the two countries.
“We do hope to engage as early as possible in the automatic exchange of information with Switzerland and this has been conveyed to Swiss tax authorities,” he said.
On India’s bid for NSG membership, Jaishankar said India has been eyeing membership of the premier group for many, many years and that it has made “lot of progress” on that.

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