German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier completed his three-day visit to India on Friday. Top of the agenda were the global financial crisis and climate protection. Accompanied by a high-ranking economic and cultural delegation, Steinmeier held talks with his Indian counterpart, Pranab Mukherjee, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as well as with the leader of the opposition, L K Advani.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 20. Nov. in New Delhi
Steinmeier wound up his India trip with a visit to Bangalore to open a German consulate in the country’s hi-tech hub. 120 German firms or German-Indian joint ventures are based in the southern city. Germany is the first country to open a consulate there.
Before leaving for the south, he spent his time in the capital Delhi in meetings with various Indian leaders. The main focus was on how to find solutions to global challenges such as climate change and the financial crisis.
Germany has been hit by the financial crisis harder than most and officially slipped into recession last week after two consecutive quarters of contraction. During his trip, Steinmeier discussed the role emerging economies, such as India and China, could play to help stabilise the financial markets.
Crucial visit amid global financial crisis
“The visit is important in the context of the global financial meltdown,” explained diplomatic analyst Manish Chand. “It is a crisis of monumental proportions. What the two foreign ministers have been talking about this time around, besides bilateral relations, is what Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and India, a major emerging economy, can do together to rescue the global financial market.”
In a statement, Steinmeier said it was time to expand the Group of Eight industrialised nations permanently.
Maintaining that the challenges of the 21st century could not be faced "without a strong partner like India," he described the country’s participation at the recent G20 financial summit in Washington as an example of the shift in the balance of the international economy.
One of the ideas discussed at the summit and at the recent Asia-Europe Meeting was that voting rights at the IMF could be ceded to the important emerging economies, and a Financial Stability Forum could be opened up for India and China.
Boosting bilateral trade ties
The German foreign minister was accompanied on his trip by a delegation of about 20 high-profile businessmen, who met their Indian counterparts and discussed ways to stoke growth in their companies.
Bilateral trade volumes between Germany and India have doubled to $US 15 billion over the past three years.
Other topics of discussion included international issues such as Iran and Afghanistan. Steinmeier said that international pressure on Iran should be kept up until Tehran “moved” on the issue of its controversial nuclear programme.