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Switzerland to support India at NSG meet

August 17, 2008 15:08 IST

Ahead of next week's crucial meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a top Swiss lawmaker has said his government will 'most likely' support a waiver for India at the 45-nation grouping.

"The Indo-US nuclear deal is important for India's energy security and I think the Swiss government will most likely support the waiver for New Delhi [Images] at the NSG meet," Speaker of the Upper House of Swiss Parliament Christoffel Brandil told PTI.

Coverage: The Nuclear Deal

Brandil, who was leading a parliamentary delegation in New Delhi, said Switzerland [Images] understands India's energy requirement for overall economic development.

"The nuclear deal is good for India and it should be allowed to go through," Brandil said.

Switzerland's stand will be crucial at the August 21-22 meeting of the NSG, which works by consensus and opposition by even one country could hamper India's prospects of nuclear commerce with international community.

The IAEA safeguards agreement explained 

Switzerland is yet to declare its official stand on the matter but sources said the country would not pose any hurdle for a waiver to India.

Asked specifically whether Switzerland will support India's case when the NSG meets next week in Vienna [Images], he said his government would take a favourable stand on the issue.

"It is a decision that has to be taken by the government. The Parliament has no role to play in it. But I am confident that the government will take a favourable stand on the issue," Brandil said.

The Indo-US nuclear deal explained 

Switzerland along with New Zealand [Images], Austria and Ireland are seen as difficult nations at the NSG as all four countries insist that such an exemption should not be given to a country that is not a member of the Nuclear non-proliferation Treaty.

Brandil said India has a 'good track record' of nuclear non-proliferation and the countries which have reservations about the deal should understand India's need for energy for overall economic development.

The country's Ambassador to India Dominique Dreyer last week said his government understands the importance of the nuclear energy for India's economic growth but has not yet decided its position.

View: Little to fault in IAEA agreement

On August 21, America will seek a waiver for nuclear trade with India from the NSG, which consists of countries that export nuclear material and technology, before the deal is sent to the US Congress for ratification. Some media reports have suggested that India and the US have planned a second meeting of the NSG on September 2.

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency adopted a safeguards agreement for India, a key step for initiating civilian nuclear cooperation with New Delhi under the deal.

India and the US have launched vigorous diplomatic initiatives to get NSG backing for the deal.

'Clear waiver at NSG is a fantasy'

Talking about the strong bilateral ties between India and Switzerland, Brandil said there was scope for further enhancing of relations.

The Swiss Embassy unveiled a slew of initiatives last Thursday to further deepen bilateral relations with India as part of its programme to commemorate 60 years of Indo-Swiss friendship.

The Embassy is also organising a rich array of events to celebrate the signing of the Swiss-Indian friendship treaty by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Swiss special envoy Armin Daeniker in 1948.

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