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Merkel to talk climate change, Afghan on India Visit

world Updated: Oct 27, 2007 09:12 IST

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to India on Monday for a state visit expected to focus on economic cooperation, climate change and the region's fraught politics.

"They will discuss the situation between India and Pakistan, and of course, Afghanistan where India is playing an important role in trying to rebuild the country," a government source said here yesterday.

Germany has some 3,000 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan but has resisted calls from its NATO allies to deploy its troops in the strife-torn south.

Berlin is anxious for India and Pakistan to overcome tensions and persevere with the on-off peace process designed to end six decades of hostility between the two neighbours.

It is Merkel's first visit as chancellor to India, which is emerging as an important market for Germany with bilateral trade increasing by 50 per cent last year.

Merkel will arrive in New Delhi late on Monday and be given a formal welcome with full military honours by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday.

She will lay a wreath at Gandhi's memorial called Raj Ghat (King's Place), a routine pilgrimage for visiting politicians, before holding one-on-one talks with Singh, as well as Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, President Pratibha Patil and Sonia Gandhi, the leader of India's powerful Congress ruling party.

Merkel's trip follows a visit in August to China, another Asian giant with growing ties to Europe's biggest economy.