India arrives in India, to meet PM Tuesday


New Delhi : German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived here Monday evening on her first visit to India aimed at invigorating strategic and economic ties between one of Asia’s growing economies and Europe’s industrial giant.

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Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar received Merkel at the Air Force station of Palam airport.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Merkel will hold talks on a wide array of bilateral, regional and global issues, including UN reforms, climate change, energy security and cooperation in the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations.

A slew of agreements in areas ranging from trade and energy to defence and technology will be signed between the two sides after the talks.

Promoting peace and security in violence-torn Afghanistan will also be an area of discussion between the two leaders Tuesday.

More business and technological cooperation will be the defining theme of Merkel’s four-day state visit. German Education and Research Minister Annette Schavan and around 30 top business leaders, representing big brands like European plane maker Airbus, conglomerate Siemens, rail operator Deutsche Bahn and reinsurer Munich Re, are accompanying Merkel.

With the stalling of the India-US civil nuclear deal due to the compulsions of coalition politics in India, the nuclear issue is not expected to figure prominently during bilateral talks.

Germany, the next chair of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, is broadly supportive of India’s quest for global civil nuclear integration but wants India to take some more steps to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.

Berlin will wait for India to complete its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) before taking a formal stand on the issue in the NSG.

The two countries will signal their resolve to promote cooperation in science and technology with Merkel launching a special train called Science Express, showcasing German prowess in cutting-edge technology, at the Safdarjung Railway Station Tuesday morning.

Merkel will speak at an Indo-German business forum organised by apex bodies of Indian commerce and industry here and seek more Indian investment in that country.

Merkel will head Wednesday to India’s financial capital Mumbai where her focus will be on intensifying trade and business ties between the two countries.

Bilateral trade between Germany and India has doubled to over $10 billion in the last three years. Germany is the seventh largest investor in India with a total inflow of $1.9 billion between 1991 and June 2007.