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Joint Press Conference of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Chancellor of Germany Dr. Angela Merkel, Hannover,

April 23, 2006

Chancellor Merkel: Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very happy to welcome the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Singh, today here among us in Germany and especially in Hannover. This year India is the partner country at two important Trade Fairs in Germany, first at the industry trade fair in Hannover and then at the Book Fair in Autumn in Frankfurt.

I believe that this is a symbol for the fact that we have, in recent years realized – something we had not always realized – that cooperation between India and Germany is extremely important, that we should cooperate with each other in a mutual partnership and in a mutual win-win-situation. We have already begun it well and will continue this in future.

We, the two of us, have discussed precisely these points in our first meeting, based on the fact that we have an intensive cooperation, a strategic partnership and a common agenda. We want to expand this agenda of cooperation, in particular, by cooperation in the energy sector. We, in the European Union, and also in other parts of the world, have realized that the question of energy supply is one of the most important strategic issues, not only in internal politics, but also in foreign policy. I, therefore, am very happy that the Indian side has also expressed the urgent wish for intensive bilateral cooperation in all areas of energy policy, to cooperate with each other in all areas of energy policy intensively.

We will, in addition, strengthen our cooperation in the field of science. I think, everyone knows that the intensity of this cooperation is already very high today, and also that we can, in this process, learn from each other. A scientific meeting between the European Union and India will take place next year, after Germany takes over the EU Presidency. Germany will use this opportunity to intensively promote this cooperation.

We have discussed a number of issues relating to international politics and agree that it is especially important to take internationally coordinated action when there are conflicts, for example, like the Iranian one. I have welcomed very much that India has, at the voting in the IAEA, made clear that all countries – including Iran – should fulfill the commitments made

We have spoken also about other conflicts. We will continue these talks today at the dinner, especially about the need for engaging in intensive cultural dialogue. This is a theme, in which India is a natural partner, because India is a country in which many cultures co-exist peacefully and Germany can learn a lot from this.

We have, of course, spoken also about the nuclear deal, signed between the USA and India and I have, on my part, made it clear that we will now observe the process of ratification in the United States and that we will then see how the process of discussion in the so-called Nuclear Suppliers Group progresses. We are interested in it, and also in the non-proliferation remaining an important point in the international policy on the whole – assurances have been given by the Indian side in this regard. This is an important commitment for us, and I believe, therefore, that if the process makes progress in the manner it has now been initiated in the United States as well as in the NSG, we could also intensify our cooperation in the sector of civilian nuclear cooperation. This is a process that has not been concluded yet; but I consider the commitments and statements of the Indian Prime Minister that India feels committed to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons are very important statements, which will certainly take this dialogue forward.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh: I would like to express my sincere appreciation to H.E. Chancellor Merkel and the German government for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to me and my delegation.

India and Germany enjoy excellent bilateral relations and are actively working to strengthen our Strategic Partnership. My visit here reflects our continued interest and commitment to work with Germany under Chancellor Merkel in order to further broaden and deepen our understanding on various bilateral and international issues.

As the Chancellor has mentioned, we had very useful discussion about our bilateral relations. We also exchanged views about regional issues and the current international situation. I do believe that these have helped us reach a better understanding of each other's position on all these issues.

Germany is one of our biggest trading partners and has made large investments in India. Many of our Indian companies are also expanding their business presence in Germany. The rapid growth of the Indian economy offers significant opportunities to both sides to transform our economic ties.

The Hannover Trade Fair with India as the partner country and the Indo-German Business Summit, which will be held tomorrow will provide a further momentum to our economic cooperation, especially in the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors.

In the energy sector, we welcome the setting up of the high level Indo-German Energy Forum with participation of both governments, as well as public and private sectors. The Forum will enable the two countries to focus on practical cooperation in the fields of energy efficiency, clean coal technology and renewable energy.

India and Germany have long-standing cooperation in the field of science & technology. We have agreed to work actively toward setting up a jointly funded Indo-German Science Centre in Delhi.

India and Germany share a common perspective on terrorism. India has been a victim of terrorism for many years now. We appreciate Germany's understanding of our position and look forward to continued cooperation on counter-terrorism.

Our two countries also have a common vision of a cooperative, rule-based multipolar world order. During our discussions, we reiterated our mutual determination to continue efforts within the framework of the G-4 for the reform and expansion of the UN Security Council without which the overall reform of the United Nations will remain incomplete.

I have invited Chancellor Merkel to visit India next year for continuing the tradition of annual summit meetings. I look forward to working with her to provide further impetus to our strategic partnership.

Question: I have a question to the Prime Minister on Nepal. What is your assessment of the developments there, and what can India do in order to pacify the situation there?

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh: Nepal is a very close neighbor and the developments in Nepal are naturally a cause of great concern. We have been very concerned about the developments leading to the abolition of the democratic multi-party system in Nepal, and I believe that it is an absolutely essential element. This has also led to the current crisis. In several talks with the King, we have stressed the need for restoration of democracy. I also believe that the political parties have held a discussion among them and are developing a plan to cooperate with each other in order to take forward this process.

Question (Mr. N. Ram, The Hindu): Mrs. Chancellor, two economists as the heads of the two governments - is it a challenge?

Chancellor Merkel: I am a physicist and no economist. Nevertheless I believe that we are here in Hannover today and it is not without reason that India is the partner country at the biggest industry fair. This shows that India is an important trade partner and cooperation partner for us Germans, and that India is a country with increasing economic potential that is seen and recognized by us. Germany, with its specific capabilities - they lie, for example, in engineering, in hi-tech, laser technology, nanotechnology – is seeking to be a good, reliable and recognized partner of such a developing country. This is the reason why we speak of a strategic partnership in a comprehensive sense.

We respect and appreciate the scientific and technical progress in India. On the other side, we must do everything so that the growth rate improves also in Germany through adequate reforms. When we see the growth rate of India, it would be good if we could also come somewhere near half of this growth rate. We have to do a lot for this.

Question: Mrs. Merkel, you have spoken about energy. About which energy forms are you talking? Do you want to make the country less dependent on Russia?

Chancellor Merkel: Which country? Germany?

Question: Of course Germany. You said that you wanted a greater cooperation with India.

Chancellor Merkel: India is a net importer of resources. India must, therefore, expand its own base of resources. Now we were not talking about building pipelines between India and Germany. But it is a question of our exchanges in connection with energy efficiency, various forms of energy supply. I believe, energy efficiency concerns the question how the raw material, for example, coal, natural gas or even renewable energy, including our know-how for the safety of nuclear power plants, can be used as efficiently as possible. It raises also the question how we can cooperate with India, which itself has to secure the energy basis for its own high growth rate. I believe that Germany, with its very high diversity in its energy mix, has always been an example showing that one should not become dependent on one type of energy production, but, on the contrary, develop all possibilities. And precisely this is the purpose of our energy dialogue and cooperation. And this is a new qualitative step in our cooperation, which we had not taken till now. That is why this high-ranking group of experts will meet for the first time tomorrow at the sidelines of the Hannover Trade Fair, an immediate practical step.

Question (Ms. Arati Jerath, DNA): Mrs. Chancellor, when our Prime Minister travels to Berlin tomorrow, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan will also be in Berlin to hold meetings with your Foreign Minister. We have come to know today that he will speak about the nuclear agreement. What will be your response to it?

Chancellor Merkel: I can only tell you that we have discussed today the positive developments in the relations between India and Pakistan. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Indian Prime Minister very much for his efforts in the last two years improve the security situation in this region. I wish a lucky hand for the Indo-Pakistan negotiations on all requirements and possibilities to intensify the relations, and express our support for it.

To this extent, I believe that we discuss all problems between Germany and India and Germany and Pakistan respectively in the same way. We do not talk differently with our partners, but we use the same language. To this extent, once again a hearty thanks to India for its efforts for more peace and security in the region.

Question (Sabine Muscat, Financial Times Germany): I have a question to both of you with two parts. Mrs. Chancellor, you said earlier that you will once again stress the importance of non-proliferation in the NSG-consultations. In which form do you want to do it? What exactly do you expect of India, before Germany could also supply civil nuclear technology?

Mr. Prime Minister Singh, how far are you prepared to go for India to come closer to NPT and the CTBT?

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh: I would like to say that India is not a signatory state of the NPT and the CTBT. But we have established our own controls, compatible with the NPT guidelines and also the NSG guidelines. These are being adhered to in our national legislation.

Chancellor Merkel: I had already said: we will first watch the process and debate in the USA. Both the Senate and the Congress have to approve this agreement. Then we will take a look at it in the NSG. It was very important for us in Germany that El Baradei also considers this agreement as clear progress. Then we will take a look at what the Prime Minister said, once again, and take a decision in the group as a whole. At any rate Germany will take what the Indian side has very specifically stated very seriously, and view it as a clear commitment. But it is still an ongoing process and we will, thereafter form an opinion also in the international community about it. At any rate I have the general impression that we are on a successful or a positive path, which is being followed by the Indian side by making more commitments than was the case earlier. If we still have questions and problems, we will turn to India and discuss them with India directly in a very friendly manner.

Question (George Abraham, Deepika): Mrs. Chancellor, will you react positively to the demand for a liberalization of the grant of visas?

Chancellor Merkel: We did not discuss this in detail today. But the better our relations are the simpler will also the grant of visas will become. This was not a subject of our talks. I have also not heard any complaint. If there are complaints, one could speak about it once again.

Thank you.

Note: The transcript of the German language remarks is as interpreted simultaneous during the Press Conference

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