New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi sets off on Saturday on a five-nation visit to Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, the US and Mexico during which the focus will be to broaden bilateral trade, energy and security cooperation and push for India's bid to become a member of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
PM Modi is likely to seek support of Switzerland and Mexico for India's membership of the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group as both these countries are key members of the elite grouping. The issue is likely to figure during Modi's meeting with Obama in Washington on June 7. India has formally applied for membership of the NSG on May 12.
During his talks with the Swiss President Schneider- Ammann the Prime Minister is also likely to raise the issue of black money stashed by Indians in Swiss banks.
The Prime Minister will first travel to Afghanistan where he will inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam, earlier known as Salma Dam, in Herat province, along with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Both the leaders will also hold talks on a range of issues including current situation in Afghanistan.
"Looking forward to my visit to Afghanistan tomorrow. I will join President Ashraf Ghani to inaugurate Afghanistan- India Friendship Dam in Herat. It is symbol of our friendship and would usher in hope, light up homes, nourish the fertile fields of Herat and bring prosperity to the people of the region," said the Prime Minister.
Modi said he will exchange notes with "friend" Ghani on regional situation and "setting agenda" for bilateral cooperation in the coming period.
From Afghanistan, PM Modi will travel to energy-rich Qatar tomorrow itself and from there he will leave for a two day visit to Switzerland on Sunday.
About the Qatar visit, Modi said, "This visit will nourish the historical bonds of friendship deeply rooted in people to people contacts, energy, trade and investment partnership."
"I will interact with the Indian workers at the Workers' Camp and some of the members of over 6 lakh Indians who have nurtured our relations through their sweat and toil."
The Prime Minister will also interact with business leaders in Qatar with an aim seek investment and realise the full potential of trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.
In Qatar, the Prime Minister will hold talks with his counterpart Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on a host of issues which may include trade and security.
PM to inaugurate Salma Dam in Afghanistan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Rs 1,700 crore Afghan-India Friendship Dam, the Salma Dam, along with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani in that country's Herat province on tomorrow.
The multipurpose project, undertaken by Indian Government on river Chist-e-Sharif in the province concerned, is expected to irrigate 75,000 hectares of land and generate 42 mega watt power, besides ensuring water supply and other benefits to local people.
Touted as a "landmark" infrastructure project, the dam is located 165 km east of Herat town and connected with earthen road, the Union Water Resources Ministry said in a statement.
"Due to security reasons Indian engineers and technicians involved with the project have been reaching the site once in a month by helicopter service provided by Government of Afghanistan," the statement said.
The Ministry said that all the equipment and material required for the dam work were transported from India to Bander-e-Abbas port of Iran via sea and then along 1200 km by road from there to Islam Kila border post at Iran-Afghanistan border and then further 300 km by road from the border post to the site.
"Cement, steel reinforcement, explosives etc were imported to Afghanistan from neighboring countries. The gross capacity of the Dam is 633 Million M3. The height of the Dam is 104.3 Mt, length 540 Mt and width at the bottom is 450 Mt," it said.
Funded by Indian Government, the successful completion of the project represents culmination of years of hard work by 1,500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals in "very difficult" conditions, the Ministry said.
The project is executed and implemented by WAPCOS Ltd, a public sector enterprise under the Water Resources Ministry.
PM expected to push for India's NSG membership
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to strongly push for India's membership at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) during his visit to Switzerland, Mexico and the US -- countries that are part of the elite group that looks after critical issues relating to the atomic sector.
India has been pushing for membership of the 48-nation bloc for last few years and had formally moved its application on May 12.
"This has been the objective we pursued for many many years. I think we have made lot of progress and that has led us to formally apply for the NSG membership some days ago. We are engaged with all NSG members," Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said.
He said India was looking at a very major domestic expansion in nuclear power sector besides at a "very large" international collaboration with different countries and its entry into the NSG would help its objective of having clean energy.
Insisting India not signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should not be linked to its bid for NSG membership, he said India fulfilled all its commitments relating to atomic sector.
"We have a very solid record with which much of the world is comfortable. The NSG has already made one exception for us. In a sense, our credentials have been examined, a judgement was arrived at in 2008.
"In 2008, we gave some commitments, we gave commitments on separation of our nuclear programme, between civil and the strategic side. We agreed to accept and implement additional protocol... We faithfully followed up," he said.
The Foreign Secretary said granting NSG membership to India is a "logical next step".
During his talks with the leadership of Mexico, Switzerland and the US, Modi is likely to seek support for India's membership bid at the NSG.
(With PTI inputs)