India, Germany agree to boost industrial co-operation

NEW DELHI — India and Germany agreed on Friday to enhance co-operation in tackling climate change, cybersecurity, skill development, artificial intelligence, energy security, civil aviation and defence production.

The two countries signed several agreements, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying India is eager to benefit from Germany’s expertise.

Modi said he also hopes to work together in fighting global terrorism and extremism. He did not give any details.

Visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country would like to collaborate with India in infrastructure projects, waste management and water supply.

Merkel has been accompanied by several ministers and state secretaries as well as a business delegation.

She told journalists accompanying her that Germany wanted a de-escalation and an easing of tensions in Indian-controlled Kashmir, where New Delhi imposed a security clampdown after removing its semi-autonomous status and beginning direct federal rule of the disputed area.

“In particular, we want India and Pakistan to find a peaceful solution together,” Merkel said. “I still want to listen first to the prime minister’s arguments today too. But the situation for the people there at the moment isn’t sustainable or good.”

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the countries won independence from British colonialists in 1947. Both claim the region in entirety and have fought two wars over its control. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents, a charge Islamabad denies.

Merkel also was asked about toxic air in the Indian capital, which led to a panel of experts declaring a health emergency and authorities ordering closure of schools until Tuesday.

Accordng to a German government transcript, Merkel said she noticed that the levels of fine particulate matter were very high.

“This shows how important our co-operation in the field of environmental protection is, how important it is, especially, to also have better environmental standards,” she said.

A joint statement issued after the talks between Modi and Merkel underscored the importance of building a digital partnership as part of collaboration on next-generation technologies.

Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe. Bilateral trade reached $21.9 billion in the 2017-18 fiscal year, an increase of 17% from the previous year.

German investments in India are mainly in transportation, electrical equipment, metallurgical industries, services, chemicals, construction, trading and automobiles.

More than 70 Indian companies are operating in Germany in fields such as information technology, automotive, medicines and biotech, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry.

On Saturday, Merkel is set to visit an Indo-German auto parts manufacturing facility in a New Delhi suburb and a metro station before departing.


Associated Press Writer Frank Jordans contributed to this report from Berlin.

Ashok Sharma, The Associated Press