Reflecting their desire to deepen the strategic partnership, India and Germany have for the first time discussed the possibilities of entering into bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh referred to the prospects of the two countries entering into the new area of collaboration while hailing Germany's supportive role in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which approved the Indo-US civilian nuclear accord last year.
"On the bilateral side, we deeply value Germany's consistent support, including in the NSG, for the opening of international commerce for India in the field of civil nuclear energy. We have discussed the possibilities of entering into bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy," Singh told a joint news conference last night after wide ranging talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Vivek Katju, Secretary(West) in the External Affairs Ministr, told reporters that Germany has "certain strengths" in the nuclear power generation which contributes in a big way to the country's electricity needs.
Civilian cooperation in the atomic sector by authorities concerned on both the sides will be explored, he said.
Germany has been keen on civilian nuclear cooperation with India but the first step in this direction could be about reactor safety, German ambassador to India Thomas Matussek had said recently.
Germany has been reluctant because one of the big risks of the globe is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Matussek had said, noting however that India has an impeccable non-proliferation track record
Merkel also voiced Germany's readiness to deepen its strategic partnership with India which also included boosting the transfer of technology.
She reiterated this could also involve working together on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and stepping up military cooperation.
India has largely indigenous nuclear power programme and expects to have 20,000 MW nuclear capacity on line by 2020 and 63,000 MW by 2032. It is aiming to supply 25 percent of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.
Germany also backs India's bid to gain membership of the NSG, applauding its "excellent" non-proliferation track record.
According to Mattusek, India not being a party to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will not be an issue for his country's support to India's candidacy to the elite nuclear club like the 45-nation NSG, though it would like New Delhi to be a signatory to the controversial Treaty.
"We will give support for India for its NSG membership...even without India not becoming a NPT signatory," he added.
"We value India's commitment to non-proliferation. We appreciate its track record despite not being a party to NPT." he said.
Matussek had also said that Germany can supply turbine equipment and nuclear safety technology to India.