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India, Germany kickstart inter-governmental talks

April 11, 2013 17:36 IST

India and Germany on Thursday began their 2nd round of Inter-Governmental Consultations during which crucial bilateral, international and regional issues like the long pending India-EU Free Trade Agreement and the situation in Afghanistan would be discussed.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will co-chair the consultations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was received by her and accorded a ceremonial welcome at the chancellery.

Singh is accompanied by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, Human Resource Development Minister M M Pallam Raju and Science and Technology Minister S Jaipal Reddy.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma reached in Berlin on Wednesday from Geneva.

Terming Germany as a "key partner" for India in areas like infrastructure, manufacturing, science, technology and clean and renewable energy, Prime Minister Singh had said, "We expect to sign a number of agreements and Memorandums of Understanding in these areas".

Germany is India's largest economic partner in Europe and one of the key global partners for trade, investment and technology.

Indo-German bilateral trade had registered an increase of 18.4 per cent and reached Euros 18.37 billion in 2011.

However, due to global economic slowdown, bilateral trade saw a dip of 5.5 percent last year.

India has already made it clear it expects a "strong political thrust" from Germany, a key member of 27-nation European block, for the inking of the Bilateral Investment and Trade Agreement.

The two sides will also discuss security, counter-terrorism and regional situation especially Afghanistan with officials maintaining that during the course of talks, the respective assessments on the war-torn country will be shared.

Afghanistan is something India has always discussed with Germans, Indian officials said, adding Germany was lead country on police training and in fact when India decided to do some training programmes  for the police, they ended up cooperating in the area.

Other issues that are likely to be discussed between the two sides include Iran's contentious nuclear programme and North Korea.

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