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Merkel and Modi discuss possible defense, trade deals

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have discussed improving trade ties. Germany has also promised to discuss plans to further defense deals with India.

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi met on Tuesday in Berlin to discuss intensifying political and defense cooperation between their two countries.

The leaders announced their countries would work on

increasing bilateral trade

, although Germany is India's biggest trading partner in the EU with a turnover of around 16 billion euros ($17 billion) in 2014. That figure, though, has fallen for three consecutive years, according to provisional figures from Germany's Destatis statistics agency.

India featured as the

partner country

in this year's international trade fair at Hanover, where Prime Minister Modi advertized for his "Make in India" campaign.

"Our common aim is to expand cooperation in the areas of sustainable development, innovations, competencies and new possibilities which arise in India and through initiatives such as "Make in India," "Clean India" and "Digital India," Modi and Merkel said in a joint statement released by the Chancellor's office.

The areas where India sought Germany's cooperation include environment, development of India's railway, renewable energy, education, technology and the sanitization of rivers. Joint teams would also look into waste disposal in India and water conservation methods.

The two leaders also promised to speed up talks over an EU-India free trade pact. "I wish the negotiations are taken up again and we come to a common solution," Modi told reporters.

Defense cooperation

The two leaders committed to discussing closer military cooperation as India seeks to modernize its defense equipment. On an official visit to Paris last week, Modi announced India's decision to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

In Berlin on Tuesday, Chancellor Merkel expressed a desire to cooperate on defense deals with India, although she said there was no need for an "immediate decision" regarding the matter.

Berlin and New Delhi also announced a joint working group that would look into easing restrictions for so-called Dual-Use Goods, or equipment which could be used for civil as well as military purposes.

Modi also argued for a permanent seat for nuclear-capable India in the UN Security Council along with Germany, Japan and Brazil.

The Indian Prime Minister will now fly to Canada, where he meets Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa in the final leg of his

three-nation international trip

to look out for possible partners in defense and development.

mg/jr (dpa, Reuters)

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