Geneva, June 6 (IANS) In a strong boost to its bid, India on Monday secured the support of Switzerland for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
“Switzerland welcomes India’s contributions to non-proliferation of nuclear arms,” Switzerland President Johann Schneider-Ammann said at a joint address to the media with Prime Minister Narendra Modi following delegation level talks between the two sides.
“We promised India support in its efforts to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Schneider-Ammann said.
Stating that Switzerland was interested in India’s membership of the NSG, he said that the “process has started and we will share and contribute actively”.
On his part, Modi said he was “thankful to the President for Switzerland’s understanding and support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group”.
Switzerland is an important member of the NSG and its support is crucial for India’s membership in the 48-member group.
India has already formally applied for membership in the group.
The US, Russia and Britain have extended support to India’s membership.
However, China has maintained that, to be a member of the NSG, the country should be a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Modi, who arrived here from Qatar on Sunday night on the third leg of his five-nation tour, said that India and Switzerland also shared a commitment to reform international institutions in line with current global realities.
“We have both agreed to support each other for our respective bids for the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council,” he said.
As was expected, the issue of black money also figured in Monday’s bilateral talks.
“Combating the menace of ‘black money’ and tax evasion is also our shared priority,” Modi said.
“We discussed the need for an early and expeditious exchange of information to bring to justice the tax offenders,” he said.
“An early start to negotiations on the Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Information would be important in this respect.”
The Swiss strong suits of vocational education and renewable energy too figured in the talks.
“President and I agreed to build on the Swiss Vocational and Educational Training system suited to India’s needs,” the Prime Minister said.
Schneider-Ammann said that the two sides discussed clean technology, energy security, clean air and sustainable development.
Ahead of the delegation level talks, Modi and Schneider-Ammann had a restricted meeting.
After the talks, Modi attended a business meeting in which he invited a galaxy of Swiss business leaders to invest in India.
“Within my country I need to create two or three Switzerlands. So scope for partnership is immense,” Modi told a gathering of heads of companies like ABB, Lafarge, Novartis and Nestle.
“We want to have manufacturing of global standards. Hence, Swiss model of skill development is very relevant for us,” the prime minister said.
“India is not just a market of 1.25 billion. We have skills and a government open to business,” he added.
Switzerland is India’s fifth largest trade partner and 11th largest investor.
Later, Modi also interacted with a group of Indian students and scientists from CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.
Concluding his engagements in this Swiss city, Prime Minister Modi on Monday departed for the US on the fourth leg of his foreign tour that will also take him to Mexico.
Prior to Switzerland, he visited Afghanistan and Qatar.