India, Germany to sign cultural pact, push UN reforms


New Delhi : Armed with newly-won rotating seats in the UN Security Council, India and Germany will Monday give a fresh impetus to their bid for permanent seats in the world body and sign a pact on celebrating cultural festivals to bolster their partnership.

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German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrived here Sunday on a three-day visit, his first to the country since he became the foreign minister nearly a year ago.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Westerwelle will Monday discuss a wide array of issues including the expansion of the UN Security Council, enhanced counter-terror cooperation, energy cooperation and boosting economic and defence ties.

The two will also talk about climate change, international security and regional conflicts. “These are also subjects I would like to discuss with Indian partners,” Westerwelle said in a statement ahead of his visit.

The two sides will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on celebrating a Year of Germany in India in 2011-12 and a Year of India in Germany in 2012-13 in the presence of the foreign ministers. The celebrations over these two years will mark 60 years of Indo-German diplomatic partnership.

Bearing the motto ‘Infinite Opportunities – Germany and India 2011-12′, the German year will be celebrated with a string of events across India that will showcase Berlin as “an innovative, creative partner” for New Delhi.

Galvanised by their election as non-permanent members to the UN Security Council (UNSC) last week, India and Germany are set to push hard for expansion of the Security Council in permanent as well as non-permanent category.

“The visit will pave way for both the countries to give a fresh impetus to this issue,” the German embassy said in a statement.

“We are convinced that India, as a valuable partner in the UN and in the G20, should, according to its weight, play an active and decisive role in this globalised, multi-polar world. Germany and India also aim to strengthen their cooperation in tackling various global challenges,” Westerwelle said.

Westerwelle is set to amplify on these themes when he speaks at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi on ‘Common challenges, shared answers – Using the opportunities of the century together’ Monday.

According to the German embassy, the minister will also call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

India and Germany are part of the G4 grouping, which also comprises Japan and Brazil, that is pushing for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

The two sides will seek to boost bilateral business ties when Westerwelle meets Commerce Minister Anand Sharma Tuesday.

The two countries, which have set a bilateral trade target of 20 billion euros by 2012, will also seek to scale up their trade and investment.

The two recently agreed to set up a hotline at a high government level to resolve visa problems faced by business persons and skilled professionals.