Manmohan, Merkel discuss terrorism, Af-Pak

Terrorism in the region and security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan were among the host of issues discussed during the first Indo-German Inter-governmental meeting in New Delhi.

New Delhi: Terrorism in the region and security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan were among the host of issues discussed during the first Indo-German Inter-governmental meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserting that terrorism will have to be fought “on all fronts and not selectively“.

Led by Dr. Singh and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in New Delhi this morning, the Cabinet meetings between the two sides saw wide-ranging talks on bilateral, regional and international issues such as cooperation in the strategic areas of defence and security, trade and UN Security Council reforms.

“We discussed the developments in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Terrorism is a serious challenge which will have to be fought on all fronts and not selectively,” Dr. Singh told a joint press conference with Ms. Merkel.

Conference on Afghanistan

“India and Germany have the same goal in Afghanistan, as an independent country with security in its hands. Afghanistan should develop an independent security architecture,” Merkel said.

She said Germany will be hosting the next conference on Afghanistan by the end of the year in which the issue of reconciliation process will be discussed in detail.

After the talks, India and Germany also inked four pacts to expand their cooperation in areas relating to education, research and high-tech areas like nuclear physics.

‘Safety norms world class’

Asked about nuclear energy safety norms, Dr. Singh said every effort would be made to ensure that all safety norms in the generation and utilisation of nuclear energy are “world class”.

“Today our nuclear energy is three per cent of our total energy generation. Our capacity is less than 5,000 MW. We want to raise it to 20,000 MW by the year 2020,” he said.

He said if India has to meet the emission targets, the country will have to have a combination of nuclear energy and renewable energy sources.

Stressing the need for “broad—based” mix of nuclear energy and other sources of energy, Ms. Merkel said for many years Germany also had mix of both sources of energy and talked about power plants being built in India with the German help.

On UNSC reforms, Dr. Singh said both India and Germany were of the opinion that the body should reflect the contemporary reality of the world and were hopeful of a positive result.

“Germany and India are members of G4. We have been arguing for a long time that the global system needs to be brought up to date in tune with contemporary realities. The new realities of the global scene have to be taken into account in looking at reform of the global structures of governance,” Dr. Singh said.

On her part, Ms. Merkel said Germany and India will work together for getting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and stressed on “speeding up the process of the UN reforms”. Both Germany and India have currently non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council.

Strong bilateral relations

Noting that Ms.Merkel’s visit coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Germany, Dr. Singh said, “It is fitting that this should be so. Chancellor Merkel has been an ardent advocate of our strategic partnership.”

The Prime Minister also congratulated Chancellor Merkel on the conferment of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding for the year 2009.

On the trade front, Dr. Singh noted that Germany was India’s largest trading partner in Europe and was one of the most important partners for technological collaboration and joint research and development.

“It is also amongst the largest foreign investors in India. Our bilateral trade was more than 15 billion Euros last year, and is on course to reach the target of 20 billion Euros per year by 2012,” he said.

Dr. Singh also reiterated India’s desire to have greater German investment in India, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, high technology, energy and basic and applied sciences.

“We wish to expand our production and R&D base and encourage more technology transfers. India offers a stable and friendly investment climate and a large growing market. I welcome the progress that is being made on the issue of high technology exports from Germany to India. This will benefit both economies,” the Prime Minister added.

He said their discussions also covered views on the situation in West Asia and North Africa, including developments in Libya and how they impact on regional peace and stability.

PTI

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