India, Germany to ink several pacts to boost ties

New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) India and Germany are likely to sign several pacts in areas including renewable energy, trade, infrastructure and education during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Berlin next week.

Speaking to reporters here ahead of the three-day visit, German Ambassador to India Michael Steiner said the visit will boost trade and investment between the most populous countries in South Asia and Europe.

He specifically mentioned the second-round of Inter-governmental Consultations April 11 where the prime minister will lead a five-member ministerial delegation from India, while Chancellor Angela Merkel will head the German side.

"Germany is the only country with which India has such a format of high-level discussion," the ambassador said, adding it covers a host of areas ranging from urban development to nuclear safety.

The first round was held in New Delhi in May 2011 during Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit. The prime minister had last visited Germany in December 2010.

Those accompanying him include External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah, Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju and Science and Technology Minister S. Jaipal Reddy.

The German chancellor had visited India previously in October-November, 2007. During her visit in 2011 she was conferred the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding for the year 2009 .

Germany is India's largest trading partner in Europe and bilateral trade with the country had registered an 18.4 percent increase to touch 18.37 billion euro in 2011. Germany is also the 8th largest foreign direct investor in India.

According to the ambassador, Manmohan Singh will also mark the close of the "Days of India in Germany" - that was kick-started in 2011 with four themes, "Connecting Cultures", "Connecting Ideas", "Connecting Capabilities" and "Connecting Minds".

According to India's foreign office, Germany has a vibrant Indian community of 110,000 people with 43,175 holding Indian passports and 67,029 of them being nationals of that country.

This apart, some 4,500 Indian students are pursuing various courses in Germany, while around students from the European country are pursuing similar courses in India.

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