Manmohan heads to Germany Wednesday for G-8 meet


New Delhi : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves for Berlin Wednesday on a three-day visit to participate in the outreach session of the G-8 summit of the world's richest nations which will focus on climate change and global trade.

Support TwoCircles

The G-8 summit will be seeking global solutions to global problems like climate change, multilateral trade and the protection of intellectual property rights, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters Tuesday.

Manmohan Singh will meet heads of state/governments of other four outreach nations at the G8 summit that includes Brazil, China, South Africa and Mexico Thursday.

The five countries, who have been invited as outreach nations to the G8 summit for the third year in a row, are expected to discuss a gamut of issues like the Doha round of trade negotiations and evolve a common position reflecting concerns of developing countries on global warming.

The next day, Manmohan Singh heads to the picturesque Baltic resort of Heiligendamm where the G-8 summit will be held.

"It will be an occasion to review major issues of world economy. The summit will be dominated by the theme of climate change," Menon said.

"Our interest is in seeking global solutions to global problems," he said.

Menon stressed that India was one of the first few countries to raise the issue of climate change way back in the eighties as it directly impinges on the lives of people in India.

"It is an issue that concerns us tremendously," he said while underscoring that India backed the reduction of greenhouse emissions and energy efficiency.

Menon, however, stressed that developing countries like India believe development to be the best antidote to adverse effects of climate change.

"There are various issues on the table. We will judge various options. We are ready to talk anywhere on this issue," he said.

The summit's host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is likely to press for binding rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

India is opposed to legally mandated measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as they are likely to have significant adverse impacts on GDP growth of developing countries and affect their poverty alleviation programmes.

"The threat of climate change is real and unless we alter our lifestyles and pursue a sustainable model of development, our future will be at peril", Manmohan Singh said in a message on World Environment Day, a day before he leaves for Germany.

Manmohan Singh is also likely to have some bilateral meetings with leaders of various G-8 countries on the margins of the summit, but they will be mostly in the nature of "pull away meetings".

Manmohan Singh will meet US President George Bush and discuss various bilateral and global issues, including civil nuclear cooperation.

The two leaders are likely to discuss the proposed 123 bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact that is bogged down in some sticky issues relating to India's right to test a nuclear device and to re-process US-origin spent fuel.

But those expecting a breakthrough on this front in this meeting should take a reality check. "This is not the place where we intend to negotiate bilateral issues," Menon clarified.

India and the US recently held three-day talks to iron out differences over the 123 pact that will pave the way for resumption of civilian nuclear cooperation after a gap of nearly three decades, but could not reach a final agreement due to differences over testing and reprocessing.