Angela Merkel, Narendra Modi share a pretty good chemistry - GulfToday

Angela Merkel, Narendra Modi share a pretty good chemistry

Modi, Merkel

Narendra Modi with Angela Merkel.

Ranjana Narayan, Indo-Asian News Service

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brief stopover in Berlin last April, he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were absorbed in chatting by themselves for over 20 minutes in the balcony of the Chancellery, ahead of their official dinner meeting, as senior officials from both sides waited patiently below, in a sign of the good chemistry the two leaders share. As Merkel visits India in November for the biennial inter-governmental meeting, preparations are in full swing to take Indo-German strategic ties to a new high, says German Ambassador Walter J. Lindner.

The Intergovernmental Consultations (IGC), a strategic partnership meeting held at the level of head of government every two years, is something Germany has reserved for only the “very big and important countries”.

When Modi visited Berlin for the Fourth IGC in May 2017, he was accompanied by several cabinet ministers. The German Chancellor is expected to do likewise during her visit for the Fifth IGC.

“This (IGC) I think is a very good way of pushing things, giving things a bit more boost,” Lindner said, adding that though the two sides keep working through the year, the physical presence of the two heads of government together with several of their ministers gives the ties a major fillip.

During the last IGC, the two sides signed 12 cooperation documents in various sectors.

Recounting Modi›s brief visit to Berlin in April 2018 for a dinner meeting, on the suggestion of Merkel who had just begun her fourth term as Chancellor, Lindner told IANS: “Prime Minister Modi was there in Berlin on a stopover from the London Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. And we were waiting there (at the Chancellery) for dinner.

“And they were on the balcony chatting, the two of them, for 20 minutes, the Chancellor and PM Modi. And we were sitting on the table. At the time it was Vijay Gokhale who was my colleague there. And we at the table doing small talk, wondering what they were talking about. Later she said, “We were talking much about the future of work, the repercussions of globalisation, what does this mean to the world economy, and robotics, and industry 4.0, and these kind of things›. And I think these will also be announced in the (forthcoming) agenda,” Lindner told IANS in an interview.

Describing the bilateral ties as “very, very connected, and a dense relationship”, Lindner said: “But everything can be improved, there is always room for improvement.”

On Merkel›s upcoming visit to India in November, he said: “Our preparation process is already in full swing.” On the areas to be covered during the visit, he said they would include “innovation, industry and also industry 4.0 (fourth industrial revolution) -- Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics as well as energy, renewable energy, sustainable development, vocational training and environment,” among other subjects.

Modi and Merkel had also discussed Industry 4.0 during their bilateral meeting at Hannover in April 2015 when the two leaders jointly inaugurated the Hannover Trade Fair.

Global issues would also figure in the talks. “We live in a turbulent time, where we and India and others are very interested in rule-based systems, structures, like the UN, and also like the WTO and other agreements where we can put rules. So it is not one against the other, or only bilateral issues.”

Talks would also cover “the environment front, trade, and also on scarceness of resources, plastic, but also globalisation in the digital world”.

“There are a lot of topics which we share. And since the chemistry between the two PMs is a good one, I think they have a lot to talk in this context,” he added.

Trade between India and Germany was around 18.2 billion euros in the first 10 months of 2018, and India stands 26th among Germany›s trading partners. On Ease of Business in India, the Ambassador said it has “improved”. The two sides have established a “fast track mechanism” through which they iron out any issues hobbling forward movement.

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