Merkel visit: 18 MoUs inked, India to fast-track German business

New Delhi: India and Germany on Monday gave a major boost to their bilateral ties, especially in the economic field, by inking 18 MoUs, including one for setting up a fast-track system for German companies in India, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks here.

The range of MoUs includes one on security cooperation, and another for promotion of German as a foreign language in India and for the promotion of Modern Indian languages in Germany.

Climate change was a major focus of talks, and both sides decided to forge an Indo-German Climate and Renewable Alliance, a partnership to harness technology, innovation and finance in order to make affordable, clean and renewable energy accessible to all and foster climate change mitigation efforts.

The two sides issued a Joint Statement on Climate Change and Energy Technology Cooperation after the Third Inter-Governmental Consultation (IGC), a bilateral mechanism that India has only with Germany. Modi, in his speech, termed the mechanism of IGC as unique, saying it had helped bring growth in relations.

"We see Germany as a natural partner in achieving our vision of India's economic transformation. German strengths and India's priorities are aligned. And, so is our mutual goodwill," he said, after holding the 3rd IGC with Merkel here.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel befor a meeting at Hyderabad house in New Delhi on Monday. Pic/ PTI

He said both sides have convergence of views and rapidly growing cooperation in the field of clean energy and combating climate change. Modi thanked Germany for its over 1 billion euro aid each for India's Green Energy Corridor project and for solar projects in India.

"We look forward to a concrete outcome at COP21 (Conference of Parties) in Paris," Modi said. He said both sides will see a boost in partnership in areas of defence manufacturing, trade in advanced technology, intelligence, and countering terrorism and radicalism. He thanked Germany for its strong support for India's membership of the international export control regimes.

"As we discussed in the G4 Summit in New York, Chancellor and I are committed to pursue reforms of the United Nations, especially the Security Council," Modi said. He also thanked Merkel for the return of a 10th century statue of Durga in her Mahishasurmardini avatar from Jammu and Kashmir. Modi said the statue was a symbol of the victory of good over evil.

He said: "This also suggests that in this age of transitions and turmoil, India-Germany partnership will be a force of good for the world." Merkel, in her media statement, said both sides held very good IGC and bilateral talks. She said the IGC mechanism has underscored the intensity of bilateral ties with India. She said the inking of so many agreements was a "testimony to the dynamic relations".

The chancellor said more than 1,500 German companies were in India and more would be glad to open up in the country. She commended the inking of the fast-track agreement on German companies. "The speed at which you grant licences has increased, which is a good thing," Merkel said.

The earlier IGC was held in 2011, and then again in 2013. It is held every two years, said Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar briefing reporters after the talks. He said both sides discussed the EU-India free trade agreement and there was an understanding to go forward with the negotiations.

Both sides discussed areas of cooperation in vocational training, skills, railways, renewables, green corridor. In talks on the region, the "neighbourhood to the west of us" was discussed, alluding to Pakistan, as well as Afghanistan, and the issue of terrorism, he said.

Both sides inked an agreement on security cooperation, an MoU on Solar Energy Partnership, for cooperation in the field of Skill Development and Vocational Education and Training, on Security Cooperation, railways and for cooperation in disaster management.

Both sides also issued a joint statement after the talks. Both Modi and Merkel, who arrived here on Sunday, will meet on Tuesday in Bengaluru and host a joint business meet. Merkel is to also visit the Bosch unit there.

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