Merkel meets Modi, says J&K situation must improve

German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Prime Minister Narendra Modi

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday said that the situation for people in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was not sustainable and must improve.

Merkel, who is on a tour to New Delhi, called for improvement of the situation in J&K, even as she joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi to call upon all countries to stop cross border terrorism. Her call for improvement of the situation in J&K came just days after Modi Government facilitated a visit by a group of 23 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to Srinagar.

Prime Minister and German Chancellor called upon all countries to root out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure; disrupt terrorist networks and stop flow of fund to terror organizations. The two leaders co-chaired the fifth round of India-German Inter-Governmental Consultation in New Delhi. They stressed on sending out a consistent message that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations was not acceptable to the international community. They also agreed to deepen bilateral defence cooperation.

Merkel is the first Head of Government of a western nation to visit India after Modi Government in New Delhi on August 5 stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and moved to reorganize the state into two Union Territories.

“The situation for the people there (J&K) is currently not sustainable and must improve,” Reuters quoted German Chancellor telling journalists accompanying her from Berlin to New Delhi. Merkel was also quoted saying before her meeting with Modi that she would like to hear Prime Minister’s “plans for restoring calm” to Kashmir. She made the comment just after leading the Inter-Governmental Consultation with Prime Minister and before holding a second one-to-one meeting with him at his official residence at Loknayak Marg in New Delhi.

Pakistan and China have been vociferously opposing India’s decisions on J&K.

Though the majority of the international community, including the European Union (EU), endorsed India's position that its moves on J&K were its “internal affairs” and “sovereign decisions”, New Delhi did draw flak for detention of a large number of political leaders and activists, communication blackout and restrictions imposed on citizens of J&K before, on and after August 5.

Modi Government earlier this week facilitated a visit by 23 Members of European Parliament – mostly from political parties known for right-wing ideology – to Srinagar after they arrived in New Delhi on a private tour organized by a non-government organization. The move was aimed at dismissing the allegations of human right violations in J&K. They had a meeting with Prime Minister before traveling to J&K.

Prime Minister and German Chancellor on Friday witnessed signing of 11 joint declarations of intent, including for cooperation in research and development on artificial intelligence and partnership for green urban mobility as well as for cooperation in civil aviation, skill development, start-ups and agricultural market development.    

“We have vowed to build a ‘new India’ by 2022 and expertise of technological, economic powerhouses like Germany will be useful for it,” Prime Minister said as he and German Chancellor made press statements after the meeting.

Merkel said that agreements signed between Germany and India signaled that India-Germany ties were marching ahead in the areas of new and advanced technology. She added that it was important to work together in the challenging areas of 5G and artificial intelligence.

“We will be happy to engage in big infrastructure projects which India is envisaging,” added German Chancellor.

Germany agreed to work towards facilitating export of military equipment to India as well as sharing of technology with India, according to relevant European as well as national and international rules. A deeper cooperation between the Defence Industries of both countries must encourage co-development and co-production, under the “Make in India” initiative of Government of India.

The meeting between the two leaders was followed by signing of an implementing arrangement for exchange of personnel between Indian Space Research Organization and German Aerospace Centre too. The two sides inked eight Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), including the ones for cooperation in inland, coastal and maritime technology; promoting, establishing and expanding scientific and technological research cooperation as well as for extension of Indo-German partnership in higher education.     

Prime Minister and German Chancellor agreed to enhance bilateral trade and investment. The two sides underlined the importance of a balanced Free Trade Agreement between India and the European Union. They agreed to “deepen efforts to restart negotiations between the EU and India on the Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement,” according to a joint statement issued after the meeting. The two leaders agreed on a statement of intent on key elements of the Indo-German Migration and Mobility Partnership Agreement.

India also invited companies of Germany to take advantage of the defence corridors set up in the States of Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

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