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Patil Likely to Press Switzerland on Black Money Issue


New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS): India is likely to renew its request to the Swiss government to end bank secrecy and to help get billions of dollars stashed in secret accounts by some Indians when President Pratibha Patil meets her Swiss counterpart Micheline Calmy-Rey next week.

Patil Friday goes on a two-nation visit to central Europe that includes Switzerland and Austria.

She is expected to hold talks on a wide range of issues with her Swiss counterpart Monday in the capital city Berne.

"The entire gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues will be discussed," M. Ganapathy, secretary (west) in the external affairs ministry, told reporters here when asked whether the issue of secret accounts by Indians in Swiss banks will figure in the discussions.

Ganapathy declined to speculate on whether the black money issue will figure in the discussions, but government sources indicated that there was a strong possibility that given the political resonance of the issue here, it will be taken up during the meeting.

India is expecting Switzerland to act on a commitment made at a G-20 meeting in 2009 to end bank secrecy and to enter into effective Tax Information Exchange Agreements with every country.

Earlier this week, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension V. Narayanasamy said Switzerland and other tax havens have committed to provide sufficient cooperation to help trace black money.

"Switzerland has given a commitment that they will give whatever information they have," he said.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid, who was also present, added that the Indian government has received crucial information on black money from Switzerland and other tax havens and would take action to bring back the money stashed abroad.

"We have led the world in this fight against black money and we have been taking it forward. We have signed agreements with many countries in this regard," he said.

Khurshid stressed that India was concerned about black money being used for anti-social activities like funding terrorism and drug trafficking.

Wrapping up the Swiss trip, Patil Oct 4 heads to Austria on a state visit.

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