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India, Germany to talk on Afghanistan, terror

April 09, 2013 18:53 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave for Germany on Wednesday on a three-day visit during which he will hold comprehensive talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on key bilateral, international and regional issues including India-EU FTA, Afghanistan and counter-terrorism.

The visit will provide an opportunity to both sides to review the status of bilateral ties and discuss ways to enhance their cooperation in trade and investment with Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai maintaining that Singh will also clarify to the German leader the large number of steps and reforms taken up by his government to improve investment climate.

He also said India is expecting a "strong political thrust" from Germany, a key member of the 27-nation European bloc for early inking of the India-EU pact."We are of the view that early conclusion of India-EU agreement will open up new economic opportunities to both sides and certainly that applies to the way we approach our economic engagements with Germany.

"The negotiations have reached an advanced stage and in fact there will another round of negotiations on April 15 when it will be taken forward. We will certainly be discussing the matter with the German side. We expect a strong political thrust from Germany for an early conclusion of the agreement," the foreign secretary said.

Mathai said in addition to the ministers accompanying the prime minister, the national security advisor, who is part of the delegation, will address security-related issues and hold a strategic dialogue during the visit.

Singh, who will be co-chairing the second round of Inter Governmental Consultations with the German chancellor, will utilise this opportunity to "clarify the steps taken by India to improve the investment climate in our country. And that the reforms process is on track," he said.

He also said progress in a number of areas of bilateral cooperation has been made and the two sides will be entering into some agreements and memorandum of understanding, including vocational education, science and technology, and clean energy.

The two leaders will also discuss the situation in Afghanistan, the foreign secretary said, adding, "We have had interesting exchanges with Germany. As you know, Germany is a part of the ISAF and it has had a contingent in Mazar in the past. As the drawdown continues, Germany like the other countries would like to ensure that the future of Afghanistan is not marked by uncertainty and instability."

Apart from trade and investment and regional situation, the two countries, which are part of G-4 (Brazil, India, Germany and Japan), will also discuss the Group's proposal on UN Security Council reforms.

"Yes, the G4 proposal will be discussed. The External Affairs Minister will in fact be reaching Germany before the Intergovernmental Consultations for a separate bilateral meeting, before he joins the IGC. And certainly in that this subject will come up as to how we can jointly take forward the G4 proposal.

"And while considering the G4 proposal, we will of course be looking at the modalities in which it can be taken forward, which means also considering ways in which we can deal with those groups within the UN system who have a different view."

The German chancellor will host a dinner for Singh, who will arrive in Berlin Wednesday evening.

The next morning, he will be accorded a Ceremonial Welcome at the German State Chancellery after which he will jointly chair the IGC with Merkel.

In the evening, the prime minister will attend the wrapping up of "Days of India in Germany" cultural events being organised to mark the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

As part of the celebrations, various events were held from May 2012 to March 2013, under the four themes -- Connecting Minds, Connecting Capabilities, Connecting Ideas and Connecting Cultures.

On April 12, the prime minister will call on the president of Germany before returning.

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