German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has held talks with Indian officials, including Narendra Modi, on the third day of his India tour. Steinmeier will focus the rest of his visit on deepening Indo-German trade ties.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier underlined the importance of Germany's economic and political ties with India as he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Saturday.
The German president and his wife Elke Büdenbender were given a ceremonial welcome in the forecourt of the presidential palace in New Delhi. In addition to Modi, Steinmeier and the German delegation also held talks with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.
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Germany was "heavily invested in India," Steinmeier told reporters as he arrived at the palace, but added that "there is still a huge potential and we should give new dynamics in trade between Germany and India, developing technology and communication between Germany and India."
Steinmeier's remarks came as he began what appeared to be the business end of his five-day India trip, which started on Thursday with a series of visits to various traditional and religious sites.
Some 1,800 German firms employ more than 400,000 people in India. Germany is India's largest trading partner in the European Union and sixth largest overall. Bilateral trade between the two countries totaled some $19 billion (€15.4 billion) in 2016-17.
Steinmeier urges Germany to deepen ties with India
Following talks with Modi and Indian officials, Steinmeier called on the German government back in Berlin to deepen ties with India and not just focus on other "global players," a likely reference to China, whom India sees as a regional rival.
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Germany's president also signaled that India would serve as a key partner on the international stage. According to the president, Modi criticized the US' protectionist trade measures during their talks, adding that President Donald Trump's talks of a trade war risked undermining progress made on behalf of the World Trade Organization.
Modi's position on trade was a good signal "that I will be taking home with me," Steinmeier said. "In a world where talk is often of 'everyone versus everyone,' we can rely on India as a partner who is committed to an international order based on mutual respect and rules," he added.
Steinmeier and Modi also discussed how Germany and India could work together in developing new clean energy technologies.
"Our bilateral cooperation must look at how we can contribute to global issues, for example when it comes to protecting the environment," Steinmeier said, adding that these issues were particularly pressing at a time when they are "being ignored by others," a nod to the US.
The German president's remarks were echoed by the Indian Foreign Ministry, which said in a statement: "India's current priorities in most areas match with German expertise, such as renewable energy, skills development, water and waste management, cleaning of rivers, railways, etc. These could be synergized for tangible, result-oriented outcomes."
India has made its desire to move ever faster towards renewable energy sources well-known. Earlier this month, Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron kick-started the International Solar Alliance (ISA) during a summit in New Delhi. Some 120 nations have signed up to the Indo-French-led initiative with the shared ambition of reducing costs of solar energy and future environmental technologies.
German president eyes India's car industry next
On Sunday, Steinmeier is set to fly to the metropolis of Chennai in southern India, an area known for its car manufacturing.
There, the German president will visit an engineering institute and address business leaders. Among the guests expected are officials from German automaker BMW, which has its Indian base near the city.
The German president will conclude his India tour on Monday with a visit to the Shore temple at Mahabalipuram.