New Delhi, June 4: Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on his five-nation tour, making Afghanistan the first stop of his visit. After holding brief talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Modi would reach Qatar to attend a bilateral session with Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Although, United States was originally the third and final leg of his tour, Modi has decided to take brief stops at Switzerland and Mexico. While the former would be visited by the Indian Prime Minister on June 6, before reaching Washington, the latter would be toured by Modi after his visit to the United States.Also Read - 19 Killed, 25 Injured In Mexico Bus Crash
The last-minute addition of Switzerland and Mexico in Modi’s itinerary has a come as a surprise for geo-political observers. The decision was taken by South Block citing the apprehensions shown by the two nations to support India’s bid to Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). While the limelight of Modi’s visit would be centered around his visit to Washington, it would not be an overstatement to say that NSG membership agenda is on top of cards for the Indian Prime Minister. (ALSO READ: Narendra Modi in Afghanistan: With ‘Sufism, Quran, Ramzan’ part of rhetoric, Modi wins the heart of Afghans) Also Read - It's Official. Wheat And Drugs Can Now Reach Afghanistan From India Via Pakistan. Details Here
NSG is a group of 48 nations that keeps a check on nuclear proliferation and controls the trade of nuclear supplies. PM Modi will be meeting the Swiss leadership on June 5 and the Mexican President on June 8. The bilateral talks will cover several aspects, including trade and economic partnership, India’s application for membership of the NSG is likely to be on top of the agenda. Also Read - Afghanistan Cricket Board Hints at Inclusion of Women in Country's Cricket
Since India isn’t part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a prerequisite for NSG membership, both Switzerland and Mexico have been hesitant in supporting New Delhi’s claim for exemption. Moreover, the NSG will hold a plenary in Vienna on June 9 which will review India’s application. China has announced its plans to block India’s bid which is why the Indian Government has set out to seek the support of other member countries. (ALSO READ: Barack Obama to discuss defence ties, climate change with Narendra Modi: White House)
As for the US visit, New Delhi has been assured the full support of Washington at the NSG plenary. This visit is mainly to consolidate the reviving bilateral relations between the two largest democracies. Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to address a Joint Session of Congress. This is expected to build trust and increase understanding between PM Modi’s administration and the US legislative body.