Manmohan Singh returns to Delhi after three-day Europe visit

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New Delhi, Dec.12 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, returned to New Delhi on Sunday after completing a three-day visit to Brussels and Berlin.

During his visit to the German capital Berlin, Dr. Singh held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on issues such as counter-terrorism ties and UN reforms and how to take the next steps in improving the bilateral ties and strategic partnership between the two countries.

The highlight of the visit to Berlin was Chancellor Merkel issuing a stern message to Pakistan that terrorism is not a means to solve political problems and was "unacceptable" to Germany and the rest of the international community.

Concerns over terrorism figured prominently during the wide-ranging talks between Dr. Singh and Chancellor Merkel on Saturday.

During their joint press interaction on Saturday evening, Merkel said: "It has been made clear to Pakistan that terrorism is not a means to an end to solve political problems. It is unacceptable."

On his part, Dr. Singh said that both sides had discussed the possibility of entering into bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy, suggesting that Germany could soon follow the United States, France and some other countries in inking a civil nuclear cooperation pact with India.

Dr Singh said India deeply valued Germany's consistent support in the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group for the opening of international commerce for New Delhi in the field of civil nuclear energy.

Both leaders also said that India and Germany would work together to advance UN Security Council reforms for expansion of both permanent and non-permanent seats.

Both India and Germany will assume non-permanent seats in the Security Council from 1st January 2011 for a two-year period.

The two sides also agreed to enhance bilateral trade from the present level of 13 billion Euros to 20 billion Euros by 2012.

Dr Singh said the relaxation of German export control laws would bring in a new horizon for expanding bilateral trade.

He said there were no bilateral irritants in the excellent Indo-German relations.

"We believe the sky is the limit for cooperation," Dr Singh said while inviting Merkel to visit India next year.

He also revealed that next year, India would host a Germany in India Festival, which would be reciprocated in Berlin in 2012.

Earlier, during a two-day visit to Brussels, the Prime Minister attended the 11th EU-India Summit.

After Friday's summit deliberations and meetings with European Commission president Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, India and the European Union issued a joint statement in which they reiterated their commitment to share common values relating to democracy, rule of law, civil liberties and respect for human rights, and agreed to reinforce their strategic partnership.

Both sides agreed to work for meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

They discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of common interest and concern in the context of the Lisbon Treaty.

On the bilateral front, leaders of both sides recognized the value of pursuing an ambitious and balanced broad-based trade and investment agreement, but only agreed on the contours of a final package.

They reaffirmed the importance of reaching an ambitious and balanced conclusion by spring of 2011.

Welcoming the business summit held in the margins of the summit, both sides agreed that enhanced cooperation between business organizations from EU and India would greatly benefit their respective companies and improve opportunities for cooperation.

The leaders also welcomed increasing cooperation in the field of security and defence, and agreed to pursue the EU-India dialogue and cooperation in this area, including in the context of counter-piracy naval operations and more broadly in support of the UNSC resolutions. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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