In the first official engagement between New Delhi and Berlin since the Modi government took charge in Delhi, India and Germany will be looking to impart a fresh momentum to their burgeoning economic ties and step up cooperation in combating terrorism and in pushing the UN Security Council reforms.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier began a three-day visit to India September 6. He is expected to engage his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on a wide spectrum of bilateral, regional and global issues in Delhi on September 8.
Economic diplomacy is the key focus of the visit – the German foreign minister has brought with him a galaxy of top business leaders who are eager to explore new investment opportunities offered by India in the wake of new economic reforms unleashed by the business-friendly Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Issues relating to technology, trade and defence are expected to feature prominently in the German foreign minister’s meeting with Prime Minister Narenda Modi, and Sushma Swaraj.
Germany is India’s biggest trading partner in Europe, and its 5th largest trading partner in the world. It is also the 8th largest source of FDI. In the period between 2000 and 2012 Germany invested around USD 5.2 billion, constituting about 3 per cent of total FDI to India.
Germany is looking to step up investment in India’s burgeoning infrastructure sector. In this context, Mr Steinmeier will also meet India’s Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs, M. Venkaiah Naidu and Minister for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.
Mr Steinmeier will visit the construction site of the Delhi Metro where a German-made tunnel-drilling machine being used to upgrade and enhance Delhi’s public transport system.
Educational linkages and skill building are other important facets of India-Germany partnership. As part of the ‘Deutsch an 1000 Schulen’ [‘German in 1000 Schools’], Steinmeier will visit a Kendriya Vidyalaya School where he will meet India’s Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani, and interact with a group of Indian students.
On regional and global issues, enhancing cooperation in combating terrorism and stabilising the post-2014 transition in Afghanistan will be high on the agenda. In an interview to the Hindu, an Indian daily, Mr Steinmeier underlined the strategic canvas of India-German relations. “Naturally, a strategic partnership requires close coordination in the foreign policy field. During my visit, I will therefore have an exchange with my interlocutors on many different foreign policy issues; these will include lasting peace in Afghanistan, as well as current crises, such as those in Ukraine and Iraq.”
The foreign minister also highlighted the need to step up the G4 initiative for reform of the UN Security Council. “Security Council reform is indeed an important issue and we are working on it together with India, as well as with our other G4 partners Japan and Brazil. The Security Council no longer reflects today’s geopolitical realities. Without reform, its credibility is in danger of being further eroded,” he told the Hindu.
“Therefore, we believe that 2015 – 70 years after the founding of the UN and 10 years after the last reform – could be the right time to move forward. Germany, India and their G4 partners, together with other reform minded countries, will continue to push for comprehensive reform. In this regard, I also look forward to our next G4 meeting at ministerial level, scheduled to take place during the General Assembly in September in New York.”
Ahead of trip, Germany’s Ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, underlined the importance of this meeting between the new governments in Berlin and New Delhi.
“Indo-German relations have always been very good and cordial. The new German and the new Indian Governments share important interests. The individual strengths of our two countries are such, that India and Germany can complement each other very well. There is huge potential in closer cooperation in several key areas, like trade, business, education, science, environment and energy. This visit will intensify Indo-German relations and help us make progress in these sectors further strengthening our bilateral ties.”
Along with business and hard strategic issues, the German foreign minister will find time for cultural connect when he visits Chausath Khamba in the Nizamuddin area of Delhi, and witness the restoration of the 17th century tomb financially supported by Germany’s Foreign Office and led by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.
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