The Indian prime minister has embarked on a five-day five-nation visit on Saturday, June 4, reported the Press Trust of India. During PM Narendra Modi's visit to Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, the U.S. and Mexico, trade, energy and security cooperation will be at the top of his agenda apart from a few bilateral initiatives.
Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate India Afghanistan Friendship Dam in Afghanistan's western region of Herat on June 4. Earlier known as the Salma Dam, the war-ravaged dam was revived by combined engineering workforce from both countries. It will irrigate 75,000 hectares of arid farmland, the Hindu reported.
Modi is expected to visit Qatar later on June 4 to meet his counterpart Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and Emir Hamad Al-Thani. Discussions with the gulf nation would encompass "bilateral, regional and multilateral issues," the external affairs ministry had said earlier. The energy-abundant country supplies 65 percent of India's LNG and it is also a key source of crude oil. The country is also host to 6.3 lakh Indians -- its largest expatriate community.
Prime Minister Modi will visit Switzerland on June 5. Reports on Switzerland's last-minute inclusion in the itinerary, to alleviate its reservation against India's entry into the Nuclear Supplier Group, was played down by Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, PTI reported. He added, however, that talks regarding NSG and "automatic sharing" of black money information will feature in the discussion. The Indian Express reported a crucial pre-plenary meeting is scheduled on June 9 for NSG members to submit their opinions on new membership application to nuclear control group.
On June 6, Modi will set off to Washington, which the foreign secretary said was a "consolidation visit... to take forward the relationship" that both Obama and Modi have worked together on. A visit to the Arlington National Cemetery, meeting with American think tanks and participating in an event to repatriate Indian antiquity from the U.S. are a few scheduled events alongside a wide-ranging talks with U.S. President on bilateral ties. A discussion with business leaders and the U.S.-India Business Council to highlight his government initiative on ease of doing business in India is also on the cards.
On June 8, Modi will also be India's fifth prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, and the countries are also expected to come out with a joint statement. Lunch hosted by the Speaker, followed by a reception by the House and Senate Committees on foreign relations and the India Caucus are on his itinerary, said PTI.
The same day, prime minister will fly to Mexico to have "extensive talks with Mexican President Enrique PeÃ±a Nieto on bilateral issues including India's membership bid at the NSG," said the news agency. Mexico, like Switzerland, has expressed concerns on NSG membership being extended to non-signatories of nuclear non-proliferation treaty. However, Modi's Mexico visit comes as a culmination of nearly a year's plan to visit the country, noted the foreign secretary.