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Germany backs India's nuke pact with US: new envoy


By Arvind Padmanabhan

New Delhi: Germany supports India's nuclear deal with the US but would like New Delhi to stick to its non-proliferation commitments, the country's ambassador-designate Bernd Muetzelburg has said. 

'We don't expect India to address its energy needs from windmills alone in the future,' said Muetzelburg, who arrived here Monday and awaits word from Rashtrapati Bhavan to present his credentials to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

'We understand well that India is a responsible state and will play a meaningful role in peace and stability in the region,' Muetzelburg, who was foreign policy and national security advisor to former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, told IANS.

'We will encourage and forge a strong partnership with India in this area,' said the career diplomat who had played a key role in grouping India, Germany, Japan and Brazil to jointly bid for permanent memberships in the UN Security Council.
Muetzelburg said being a signatory to the 'two plus four treaty' of 1990 for the unification of Germany, his country had given up its rights to manufacture or possess nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

'We are therefore committed to nuclear non-proliferation. We would like India to work closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other like agencies to work against proliferation,' he added.

India had reached a landmark agreement with the US last week on separating civil and military nuclear facilities, eventually expected to result in the country gaining access to nuclear technology.

Muetzelburg said while it was too early to say what his priorities will be in his new assignment, he hoped to see that the target of doubling India-Germany trade by 2010 is achieved much earlier.

Bilateral trade between the two countries now is valued at around $7.5 billion per annum.
'My first engagement since landing here has been to participate in a reception for two business delegations from Germany,' he said, reflecting that trade and economic ties with India will be among his top priorities.

One of the delegations was from the state of Niedersachsen, where Hannover is located, and the other from Saarland, which is interested in expanding business ties with India, especially among small and medium enterprises.