German leader Scholz is coming to India to strengthen economic ties

NEW DELHI — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived in the Indian capital on Saturday, where he is expected to discuss with the Indian Prime Minister Russia’s war in Ukraine and ways to boost bilateral economic cooperation.

“We will intensively discuss all topics that are important for the development of our countries, but also world peace, which is important,” Scholz told reporters after being received by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the presidential palace.

The trip is Scholz’s first official visit to India, although it will be his fourth meeting with Modi since taking office in 2021.

The German chancellor is expected to seek India’s support for Europe and the United States’ tough stance against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

After a video conference with leaders of the Group of Seven industrial powers on Friday, Scholz said before leaving Berlin for India that “at the international level, we are trying to make it clear that Russia is alone in the world with its aggression against Ukraine.”

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“In New Delhi, I will again stand for our position, our position on the conflict,” he told reporters.

Modi has refrained from openly criticizing Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, as Moscow is a major arms supplier and also supplies India with oil and other economic needs.

“There is a huge opportunity for more intensive cooperation in sectors such as renewable energy sources, hydrogen, mobility, the pharmaceutical industry and the digital economy” with India, Scholz said in an interview published by The Times of India on Saturday.

German Ambassador to India Philipp Ackermann said he understood why India was buying large quantities of oil from Russia.

“That’s for the Indian government to decide, and because you’re getting it at a very, very low price, you know I don’t blame the Indian government for buying it,” Ackermann was quoted as saying by a New Delhi television news channel.

Scholz is also expected to push for progress towards free trade and investment protection agreements between India and the EU. Germany is pushing to diversify its economic ties as European countries try to break away from China, said a German official who was not authorized to speak to reporters on condition of anonymity.

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Last May, Germany and India signed a series of bilateral agreements on sustainable development, under which India will receive $10.5 billion in aid by 2030 to increase its use of clean energy.

Some agreements are expected to be signed on Saturday. Details were not immediately available.

During the two-day visit, Scholz will also travel to Bengaluru, the information technology center of India, on Sunday.