New Delhi, November 1: India and Germany will strengthen their bilateral and multilateral cooperation to combat terrorism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday after holding extensive talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on enhancing ties in strategic areas, including defence, artificial intelligence and energy security.
According to German sources, at a special briefing for German journalists after the Inter Governmental Consultations and ahead of her restricted meeting with Modi in the evening, Merkel talked about Kashmir, saying the current situation on the ground there was “not sustainable and not good”.
“This has to change for sure,” Merkel was quoted as saying.
However, the Kashmir situation was not discussed during the IGC and as per sources, Merkel expected to hear from Prime Minister Modi plans for Jammu and Kashmir during their “restricted meeting”. Modi also hosted a dinner in the honour of the visiting leader.
There was no immediate official confirmation on whether Kashmir was discussed during the restricted meeting between the two leaders.
The Modi-Merkel meeting comes amidst concerns expressed by some foreign lawmakers, including from the US, over restrictions imposed by the government post abrogation of Article 370 to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in August.
Earlier in the day, the two countries inked 17 MoUs and agreements in various fields, including space, civil aviation, maritime technology, smart cities, medicine and education.
Five joint declarations of intent were also exchanged between India and Germany on consultations for the period 2020-2024, cooperation on strategic projects, partnership for green urban mobility, research & development on artificial intelligence, and cooperation in the field of prevention of marine litter.
Modi and Merkel, who co-chaired the fifth IGC, called on nations to ensure that their territory is not used for terror activities against other countries, in a veiled message to Pakistan.
“We will strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation to deal with dangers such as terrorism and extremism,” Modi said in a statement at a joint media event with Merkel.
A joint statement, issued after Modi-Merkel talks, emphasised on strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation and called for a stronger international partnership in combating the “global scourge”.
It also called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists.
Modi also invited Germany to take advantage of opportunities in defence production in the defence corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
He also hailed the strengthening of “far-reaching and strategic cooperation” between India and Germany in every field, especially in new and advanced technology.
In her remarks, Merkel said that when it comes to 5G and artificial intelligence, these were a challenge and the two countries could cooperate closely on these.
India and Germany identified artificial intelligence as one of the key areas of cooperation and signed a joint declaration of intent for it.
Pitching for intensifying of trade ties, Merkel said, “We know that our economic relations have increased but it could be intensified even more.”
“Make In India is an endeavour we have understood since India was the host country at the Hannover fair, we have seen that you are serious about this goal,” she said.
India and Germany also agreed to deepen efforts to resume stalled negotiations for a free trade agreement between India and the European Union (EU), the joint statement said.
The Prime Minister expressed India’s appreciation for Germany’s support, endorsing New Delhi’s membership at various international fora and export control regimes.
Germany also reiterated its steadfast support for India’s early accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and in this context recalled the importance of New Delhi’s constructive engagement in the areas of nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control.
“In 2022, Independent India will be 75 years old. We have aimed to build a New India by then. The capabilities of technological and economic power houses like Germany will be useful for India’s priorities and needs in this multi-disciplinary effort,” Modi said.
“Therefore, we have laid special emphasis on increasing cooperation in areas like new and advanced technology, artificial intelligence, skills, education and cyber security,” he said, adding it has also been decided that new possibilities of cooperation in e-mobility, fuel cell technology, smart cities, inland waterways, coastal management, cleaning of rivers and environmental protection will be explored.
“Our cooperation in these areas will also help in joint efforts against climate change,” he said.
Expressing concern over the inadequate global level of climate action currently, the leaders called on all countries to step up their efforts.
India and Germany will continue cooperation to expedite reforms in UN Security Council, Modi said.
Merkel said agreements signed between Germany and India prove that ties are marching ahead in the areas of new and advanced technology.
“We will be happy to engage in big infrastructure projects which India is envisaging,” she said. (PTI)