Merkel tells Modi Germany wants to develop ties with India, but not at cost of US relationship

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak after a press conference following talks and the signing of agreements at the Chancellery in Berlin, on May 30, 2017.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak after a press conference following talks and the signing of agreements at the Chancellery in Berlin, on May 30, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (Reuters, Bloomberg) - Germany wants to develop ties with India and this should not be at the cost of its trans-Atlantic relationship, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday (May 30) after meeting India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, who called Berlin "a very reliable partner".

Merkel talked about developing cooperation with India and added: "That's of huge importance and in no way directed against any other relationships and certainly not against the trans-Atlantic ties, which have historically been very important for us and will remain so in future."

On Monday, Merkel underlined her doubts about the reliability of the United States as an ally, but said she was a "convinced trans-Atlanticist", fine-tuning her message after surprising Washington with her frankness a day earlier.

Modi, the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy, welcomed a stronger global role for the EU and expressly lauded the bloc’s most powerful leader.

We always want that the European Union should be stronger, should be more active,” Modi said. “Through Chancellor Merkel, we will be able to work with the European Union. It’s very easy for us.” 

Modi signalled that he’ll stick to agreements made under the Paris climate accord even if the US pulls out.

Asked what he’ll do if the US decides to abandon the Paris Agreement, Modi stressed the importance of the fight against global warming, including Indian efforts to build out solar power. Politicians have “absolutely no right” to put in jeopardy the environment for future generations, he said.

“It becomes a morally criminal act on our part,” he told reporters alongside Merkel. “We have to accept this philosophy. And unless we do that, we won’t be able to understand the climate issue.”

Germany will push hard in Brussels for progress to be made on a free-trade agreement between India and the European Union, Merkel said in a speech warning of growing “protectionist tendencies” worldwide.

“It’s important to us that we make progress on the German-Indian, or rather EU-Indian free trade agreement,” she said at a Berlin business forum where she shared a platform with Modi. “We will do a major push in Brussels to ensure that these negotiations progress again.”