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Germany

UN Reform Tops Schröder's Talks with Indian Leaders

German Chancellor Schröder has praised close Indo-German cooperation on UN reform and mutual support for their bids for permanent Security Council seats during talks with Indian Premier Singh in Delhi.

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Schröder, Singh bond in Delhi

Political discussions dominated German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's agenda on Thursday, the second of a two-day visit to the Indian capital. The visit is part of a wider Asia tour that will take the chancellor to Vietnam, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

On Thursday, Schröder underlined the significance of smooth relations between India and Germany. "We don't have bilateral problems," the chancellor said after an official welcome by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "We are both champions of a multilateral approach in international politics and would work for a further strengthening of the United Nations," Schröder told reporters.

Working towards same objective

Both India and Germany support each other in their shared objective of obtaining permanent UN Security Council seats.

Joschka Fischer bei Manmohan Singh

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, left, talks to German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer at the start of their official talks in New Delhi, India, Wednesday in July 14, 2004.

In July this year, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer visited Delhi to lobby India's new government led by Singh in its quest for a place in the powerful club. The current make-up of the Security Council's five permanent veto-wielding members -- France, England, America, China and Russia -- is criticized for no longer reflecting global realities and there is broad agreement that an expansion and overhaul is overdue.

More recently, Schröder and Singh met the leaders of Japan and Brazil, the other two promising aspirants for a permanent Security Council seat on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month to evolve a strategy to support one another's candidature's.

Good chances

On Thursday, Schröder reaffirmed close Indo-German cooperation in the field. "We have promised each other that we will support each other for a possible candidacy on the Security Council," he said. "We regard India as an extraordinarily important partner, not only in the region, but in international politics in general."

Experts believe that the two countries' traditionally good relations could boost their chances of getting on the Security Council. "There's nothing negative in their relationship, no conflict of interest, so the two could really work together towards the same goal," Anuradha Chenoy, international relations expert at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University told DW-WORLD earlier this year.

Chenoy also pointed out that the two countries' similar position on recent world events is an indication that the two could complement each other in their bid.

"After the Sept. 11 attacks, there was a shift in the foreign policies of many countries. Both India and Germany refused to go along with the US, reflecting a common thinking," said Chenoy.

Meeting with Sonia Gandhi

Schröder, who is the first European head of state to visit India's new Congress-led government, is scheduled to meet with Indian President Abdul Kalam and give a speech titled "Peace and Stability in a Globalized World" at the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in Delhi.

Wahlen in Indien Sonia Gandhi Kongresspartei

Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi

Schröder is also to hold talks with Sonia Gandhi, president of the foundation and leader of the governing Congress party.

A day earlier, Schröder, accompanied by a high-profile business and science delegation, met with Indian business and industry groups.

The chancellor said he was confident last year's €5 billion ($6.16 billion) record bilateral trade figures could be surpassed and pledged to boost German investments in India.

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