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Modi, Merkel hold 4th Indo-German intergovernmental talks

Tuesday, May 30, 2017,14:10 IST By anju A A A

Berlin | Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel today held the fourth round of the inter-governmental dialogue to set a roadmap for the bilateral strategic ties.

Modi was accorded a ceremonial welcome with military honours at the Chancellery, the office of the German Chancellor, where he was greeted by Merkel and senior German officials.

He then introduced the Chancellor to his accompanying Indian ministerial delegation.

Modi received a guard of honour and was welcomed as the the music choir of the German Army played the Indian National Anthem.

The two leaders then headed inside for the fourth India- Germany Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC) Plenary session, the focal point of Modi’s two-day visit to Germany.

Modi was holding formal talks with Merkel as part of the IGC — held every two years – where he was joined by his delegation of senior ministers, including Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Energy Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar.

The last IGC was held in New Delhi in October, 2015, when bilateral ties were significantly scaled up.

At the IGC in Berlin, the two leaders were expected to clinch a host of agreements and sign MoUs to enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries.

“We will chart out a future roadmap of cooperation with (the) focus on trade and investment, security and counter- terrorism, innovation and science and technology, skill development, urban infrastructure, railways and civil aviation, clean energy, development cooperation, health and alternative medicine,” the prime minister had said in a Facebook post before he left for Berlin yesterday.

Germany is the largest trade partner for India in the European Union (EU) and one of the leading sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country.

There are more than 1,600 German companies and 600 German joint ventures in India and the German economic profile supports excellence and expertise that match with India’s development priorities of Make in India, Clean India, Skill India, Digital India, Smart Cities, the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Modi and Chancellor Merkel will also hold a meeting with senior business leaders before inaugurating the Indo-German Business Summit 2017 later today.

“Economic relations with Germany is the most important pillar of our partnership. It has preponderance over other areas,” the MEA said.

Yesterday on the first day of his Germany visit, Modi held informal discussions over dinner with Chancellor Merkel on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues like the Brexit consequences, trade and radicalisation in the context of recent terror attacks in Europe.

Both leaders also exchanged views on China’s One Belt, One Road initiative and climate change during their informal talks at Schloss Meseberg, the Chancellor’s official country retreat near Berlin.

“The leaders had discussions that covered the bilateral agenda and how Germany can partner with India on its flagship programmes. There was appreciation of India’s reform agenda, particularly GST,” India’s Ambassador to Germany Mukta Dutta Tomar told reporters at a briefing here last night.

Highlighting that this is Modi’s second bilateral visit to Germany since 2015, she said that the ease of doing business in India and the fast track mechanism set up in 2015 to assist German businesses work in India received appreciation from the German side.

“In fact, there has been foreign direct investment of 2 billion dollars (from Germany) in the past two years. The figures speak for themselves,” she said.

Regional and inter-global issues were also discussed during the three-hour-long interactions — some at the delegation level and some one-to-one between Modi and Merkel.

“The consequences of Brexit (the UK’s exit from the European Union) and how it would affect India and Germany were covered by the two leaders,” Tomar said, adding that the prime minister reiterated the utmost value that India attaches to the EU’s cohesiveness, which is a major factor of stability in global politics.

The issue of radicalisation and terrorism and each country’s experience in dealing with it was discussed, with recent terrorist events in Europe also mentioned in this context, she said.

Peace in Afghanistan and the importance of an the “Afghan-led and owned reconciliation and development process” was touched upon, with the prime minister expressing appreciation over the German presence in Afghanistan and calling for a consolidation of efforts in the country, Tomar said.

The Belt and Road Forum in Beijing earlier this month, where Germany was represented by its economy and energy minister, also featured in the exchange, during which the Chancellor explained German participation and India reiterated its stand against the initiative, she said.

“Our position is well known on this issue,” the ambassador said, in reference to India’s opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Modi will end his German tour with a courtesy call on German President, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at his official residence of Castle Bellevue before leaving for Spain.

Modi arrived in Germany yesterday at the start of his four-nation tour, which will also cover Spain, Russia and France.

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