Merkel arrives tomorrow to promote trade

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New Delhi, Oct 28 (UNI) German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive here tomorrow on her first visit to India, aimed at boosting business ties, especially in new areas such as environmental technology and software.

As many as 12 pacts will be signed for strengthening cooperation between the two countries in defence, security, energy, science and technology, and trade and investment during her three-day state visit.

The pacts, to be inked before her meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and delegation-level talks, will also include an agreement on 'Mutual Protection of Classified Information'.

Discussions will also focus on reform of the multi-lateral bodies such as the United Nations and its Security Council.

Both India and Germany are members of the G-4, along with Japan and Brazil, which are bidding for parmanent membership of the UNSC.

Mrs Merkel, along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will flag off from Safdarjung Railway Station here on Tuesday the 'Science Express', a unique train having 14 specially-designed coaches serving as classrooms to attract youths to science.

A symbol of Indo-German cooperation, the train will stop at 57 towns and cities during its 214-day journey.

The German Chencellor, arriving here tomorrow night, will be accompanied by a 30-member business delegation that will include senior executives from European planemaker Airbus, conglomerate Siemens, rail operator Deutsche Bahn and reinsurer Munich Re.

She will be given a ceremonial reception on Tuesday morning at Rashtrapati Bhavan before going to Rajghat to lay a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's Samadhi.

She will then call on President Pratibha Patil and Vice-President Hamid Ansari. She will also meet External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani, and have business meetings and luncheon with CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM.

She will depart for Mumbai on Wednesday for meetings with the business community, where the focus will be on economic and financial issues.

On Thursday, she will meet members of the civic society and intellectuals. She will also address a CEO's Round Table of Indo-German Chambers of Commerce.

Trade between Germany and India reached about 10.5 billon euros (15.1 billion dollars) last year, with German exports to India up by more than half and Indian exports to Germany up a fifth.

UNI

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