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Security, trade to dominate Indo-German talks

Sandeep Dikshit

Germany is looking for quicker breakthroughs with India on the economic and security fronts


‘This type of interaction by Germany is limited to very close allies'

Germany also believes that Pakistan must be helped economically


— Photo: V. Sudershan

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle calling on External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna prior to their meeting at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI: German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives here on Tuesday for holding talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a dozen topics, involving Cabinet Ministers from both sides.

While Dr. Merkel will interact with Dr. Singh and receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding later in the evening, the Cabinet Ministers accompanying her will hold talks with their Indian counterparts.

“This type of across-the-board interaction by Germany is limited to its very close allies like some European countries, the United States and Israel,” German Ambassador Thomas Matussek told newspersons.

The first such interaction kicked off on Monday with External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna meeting his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle. They agreed to hold a meeting on counter-terrorism in September with cooperation in technology, equipment and sharing of operational intelligence as the focal areas.

Europe's exporting powerhouse which is bailing out economic laggards in the European Union and is involved in the war in Afghanistan, Germany is looking for quicker breakthroughs with India on the economic and security fronts.

The first-ever Indo-German Inter-Governmental Consultations will see Dr. Merkel and her Defence Minister making a pitch for the Eurofighter Typhoon, a four-nation endeavour in which Germany is the “lead nation.” The deal is estimated at close to $11 billion, and like Eurofighter, its sole competitor, French company Dassault, is banking on the Indian order for future survival.

On Afghanistan

The two sides will also exchange notes on the situation in Afghanistan where Germany is reducing troops by this year end and wants to pull out rest of its forces by 2014. Discussions on the political process - meaning the logjam over good and bad Taliban, and seeking the involvement of neighbouring countries - will be high on the agenda, particularly because Germany is the host country for one such initiative later this year.

While Mr. Matussek wanted Islamabad to “come clean” on the links between its security forces and Islamic militants, Germany also believes that Pakistan must be helped economically and its army [be] encouraged to sustain operations against militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). In this respect, it will air a proposal for helping Pakistan economically, which is being resisted by India.

Intensive discussions are expected on two issues on which both countries do not see eye to eye – the bombing of Libya and the selection of a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief.

New Delhi is appalled at the continuing bombing of Libya while Germany, which abstained with India when the proposal came up at the United Nations Security Council, is now inclined to support the French-Anglo-U.S. insistence on a regime change or the removal of Muammar Qadhafi.

On a new IMF chief, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit at Sanya, China, wanted the candidate from an emerging economy, while Germany wants the next choice to be again from Europe.

In the area of economics, Germany would like to consolidate its advantage of being a leading provider of vocational training at a time when demand in India is huge but the capacity limited or under-par. It is also concerned over some intellectual property issues and limits on foreign investment in select sectors.

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