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President leaves tomorrow on 8-day trip to Switzerland, Austria

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil will embark tomorrow on a two-nation visit to Switzerland and Austria during which she will hold a series of bilateral talks with the leadership there in which the issue of black money stashed by Indians in Swiss banks is likely to figure.

"The entire gamut of bilateral, regional and international issues will be discussed between the leaders of India and Switzerland," M Ganapathi, Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs said on Patil`s eight-day visit.

He was responding to a question if the issue of black money stashed by Indians in Swiss bank accounts will figure in the discussions.

Asked again if there was such a possibility, he said, "I would just like to repeat that the President would discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations and also regional and international issues."

Patil would be visiting Switzerland from September 30 to October 4 and then will travel to Austria for a state visit from October 4 to 7.

Ganapathi said, "The amending protocol to the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement was concluded nearly hundred days ago. The procedure for that is, we have ratified it in India and in the case of the Swiss Confederation, after it is introduced in Parliament it has to wait for 100 days before it comes up as a ratified document. Thereafter, there will be exchange of letters between Indian and Swiss governments for it to be effective. One of the most important elements in the amended protocol is Article 26 relating to exchange of information."

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