“Strong partner” like India needed to face global challenges: Germany

November 20th, 2008 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 20 (IANS) Germany Thursday said that challenges of this century will not be solved without the presence of India on the international high table.This was stated by the German foreign minister and vice-chancellor Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the first day of official engagements during his three-day visit here.

Steinmeier called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the evening. This was followed by a meeting with his Indian counterpart, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who also hosted a dinner in his honour at Hyderabad House.

In a statement released earlier in the day to the German media, Steinmeier said it was time to expand the group of eight industrialised nations permanently.

Maintaining that the challenges of the 21st century cannot be faced “without a strong partner like India”, he described India’s participation at the Global financial summit in Washington as an example in the shift in balance of the international economy.

Consequent to the global financial meltdown, Germany, Europe’s largest economy, officially slipped into a recession last week after two consecutive quarters of contraction.

India has also downwardly revised its annual economic growth rate to 7-7.5 percent for the current fiscal from an earlier projection of 9 percent, with key sectors such as banking, aviation, automobiles and textiles doing badly in recent quarters.

The German minister is accompanied by a delegation of about 20 high-profile businessmen, who will be eyeing the Indian market as a way to stoke growth in their companies. Bilateral trade volumes between the two countries doubled to $12 billion over the past three years.

Steinmeier also discussed other international issues like Iran and Afghanistan with the Indian leadership.

He felt that international pressure on Iran should be kept up, till the Iranian regime moved on the subject.

In the light of the latest crisis of pirates hijacking merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden, the minister indicated to the accompanying media Thursday that Germany was ready to take a more pro-active step in the matter.

India has already sent a warship, INS Tabar, to the region, which Tuesday night had sunk a pirate “mother vessel” off the Omani coast.

Germany has to decide if it would join the European Union’s mission against Somali pirates that will begin Dec 8.

Steinmeier had also met with the leader of the opposition L.K. Advani in the morning and attended an afternoon reception in the German embassy.

He is scheduled to arrive in Bangalore Friday morning, where he will inaugurate a consulate and then board an airplane for Berlin in the evening.

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