German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived on Saturday for a two-day visit to India, and the talks are expected to be dominated by the war in Ukraine.
Scholz was welcomed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the capital, New Delhi, where he received military honours.
"India and Germany have very good relations and want to deepen them. That will be the topic of our talks and, most importantly, peace in the world," he said reported.
Scholz to challenge Modi on the military stance in Ukraine
The chancellor is expected to seek support from India for the firm stance of Europe and the US towards Russia regarding the war in Ukraine.
India has an officially neutral position in the conflict. Modi refrains from any open criticism of Russia as Moscow is a major arms supplier.
Russia also supplies New Delhi with oil. Since the start of the war last February, India has increased imports of deeply discounted oil because of European and American embargoes.
At the UN General Assembly on Thursday, India abstained from voting on a resolution it passed demanding Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine.
Critics have accused India of undermining Western sanctions against Moscow, while Indian officials have condemned what they say is hypocrisy on the part of Western countries, given their long history of military interventions around the world.
During Saturday’s press conference with Scholz, Modi said that India is "ready to contribute to any peace efforts," adding that New Delhi has been calling for a resolution of the crisis through dialogue and diplomacy since the beginning of the war.
Strengthened trade ties could land Germany a major order for submarines
Scholz also wants to expand economic and strategic cooperation with India in order to reduce Germany’s dependence on China and also free New Delhi from its close ties with Moscow.
Over the past 15 years, Europe’s biggest economy has benefited from the rise of China and cheap Russian energy, but concerns about Beijing flexing its muscles militarily and the war in Ukraine have fueled the need to disengage from the two countries.
Germany, along with South Korea, is reportedly in the running to supply India with six new submarines – a deal believed to be worth $5.2 billion (€4.9 billion).
Scholz is also expected to press for progress towards an India-EU free trade agreement and an investment protection agreement.
A German official in Berlin said both sides were staying put "quite distant." of the trade agreement.
But speaking in Delhi, Scholz said he and Modi were committed to making it happen, adding: "It is an important topic and I will get involved personally."
In May last year, Germany and India signed a series of bilateral agreements focused on sustainable development under which India will receive $10.5 billion in aid by 2030 to increase the use of clean
The trip is Scholz’s first official visit to India, although it is his fourth meeting with Modi since taking office in 2021.
On Sunday, Modi will take Scholz to India’s information technology hub Bengaluru.
Scholz is traveling with a delegation of business leaders, although there are no executives from major automakers on the trip. German automakers have said in the past that India is a difficult market to break into due to regulation and trade barriers.
mm/ar (AP, dpa, Reuters)