Geneva, Jun 6: In a major boost to its diplomatic push for NSG membership, India today managed to win crucial support of Switzerland ahead of a key meeting of the 48-nation bloc even as the two countries agreed to step up cooperation in unearthing blackmoney stashed by Indians in Swiss banks.
Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann announced his country's support to India's membership in the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) after holding comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a range of bilateral and global issues.
Switzerland is a key member of the NSG and its support to India's bid for membership of the elite grouping was seen as crucial in the backdrop of China harping on the need for consensus as India was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"We have promised India support in its efforts to become a member of NSG," Schneider-Ammann said at a joint media interaction with Modi. In his remarks, the Prime Minister thanked the Swiss President for Switzerland's "understanding and support" for India's membership of the NSG.
He also said combating the menace of black money and tax evasion was "shared priority" for both the countries. The US and many other NSG member countries have supported India's inclusion based on its non-proliferation track record.
The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country's vote against India will scuttle its bid. India has been pushing for membership of the bloc for last few years and had formally moved its application on May 12 which will be taken up for consideration in its plenary meetings on June 9 in Vienna and June 24 in Seoul.
The NSG looks after critical issues relating to the nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. Its membership will help India significantly expand its atomic energy sector.
The Prime Minister is likely to raise the issue with the leadership of Mexico, another key member of the NSG. India has stepped up its diplomatic outreach to various NSG member countries including China ahead of the group's crucial meetings.
The NSG had granted an exclusive waiver for India in 2008 to access civil nuclear technology after China reluctantly backed India's case based on the Indo-US nuclear deal.