German Chancellor Angel Merkel smiles and holds a bunch of flowers as she greets Indian officials after arriving at the airport in New Delhi
German Chancellor Angel Merkel smiles and holds a bunch of flowers as she greets Indian officials after arriving at the airport in New Delhi

NEW DELHI: German Chancellor Angela Merkel landed in New Delhi late yesterday for a visit in which she is expected to push for closer trade ties, and during which India’s leader hopes to draw investment from the European powerhouse. Briefly leaving behind a refugee crisis in Europe, Merkel arrived with a delegation including Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and German business leaders for her first visit to India since the rightwing Bharatiya Janata Party stormed to power last year. “Namaste Chancellor Merkel! Warm welcome to you & the delegation. I look forward to fruitful discussions & strengthening India- Germany ties,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on Twitter.

She will meet with Modi, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday before she heads to the southern technology hub of Bangalore for a businness conference the next day. Modi and Merkel will hold talks on “issues of mutual interest”, including trade, defence and renewable energy, according to the Indian foreign ministry. The two are likely to discuss resuming stalled India-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations-a market-opening pact to boost bilateral commerce.

German investments in India stand at 9.7 billion euros with about 1,600 companies in the country. Modi officially visited Germany in April when he sought to attract more industries to set up shop in Asia’s third-largest economy for his flagship “Make in India” campaign and boost the manufacturing sector. Earleir, Merkel said the emissions scandal that has hit car giant Volkswagen was “dramatic” but would not inflict lasting damage to Germany’s reputation. In an interview with public station Deutschlandradio, Merkel stressed Volkswagen would now have to provide the “necessary transparency”. “It is of course a dramatic event which is not good,” she said. “But I think the reputation of German industry, the confidence in the German economy, is not so shaken that we are no longer considered a good place to do business.” Volkswagen, a champion of German industry, has admitted that up to 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide have been fitted with the so-called defeat device.

The gadget detects when the car is undergoing testing and switches the engine to a low-emissions mode. It then switches off this mode when the car is on the road. Under real conditions, the car spews out far higher emissions than is permitted. The global scam has wiped more than 40 percent off Volkswagen’s market capitalisation and led chief executive Martin Winterkorn to resign. VW has vowed to get to the bottom of the scandal with an internal probe led by a team of US lawyers.

Meanwhile a newspaper report yesterday said that several engineers at Volkswagen admitted to installing defeat devices in the company’s cars. Bild am Sonntag said the employees told the internal investigation that they had been involved in the affair, which came to light last month. “Several engineers stated that they installed the deception software in 2008,” the newspaper said.— Agencies