NEW DELHI: German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived here tonight on a three-day visit and will hold wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow to significantly scale up bilateral relations in an array of key sectors with special focus on boosting trade, security and defence ties.
Merkel, accompanied by a large delegation of several Cabinet Ministers and top officials, was received at the airport by Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha.
Soon after her arrival, Modi tweeted, "Namaste Chancellor Merkel! Warm welcome to you & the delegation. I look forward to fruitful discussions & strengthening India-Germany ties."
The talks between Modi and Merkel are likely to focus on deepening bilateral engagement in defence, security, education, renewable energy, high technology, skill development, science and technology, railways, water and waste management, urban development and agriculture.
India and Germany are strategic partners since 2001.
The German Chancellor's visit here comes around six months after Modi's tour to Germany and there have been expectations of "path-breaking results" from the summit-level Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) between the two leaders who have been pushing for unlocking the potential and taking the ties to higher trajectory.
Both the leaders are expected to delve deep on removing bottlenecks for expanding bilateral trade and Investments.
The German Chancellor is also accompanied by a delegation of CEOs of top German companies.
The German Chancellor is expected to convey problems faced by German industries in proceeding with planned investments.
Both the leaders are also likely to exchange views on regional and global issues of common concern such as climate change.
Germany is India's largest trading partner in European Union and the seventh largest foreign investor in India.
The overall exchange of goods and services between the two countries was valued at around around 15.96 billion euros last year, a drop of 1.14 billion euros from the level of 16.10 billion euros registered in 2013.
While India's exports to Germany rose marginally to 7.03 billion euros in 2014, its German imports dropped to 8.92 billion euros from 9.19 euros in the previous year.
More than 1,600 Indo-German collaborations and around 600 Indo-German joint ventures are currently in operation.
Ahead of Merkel's visit, German Ambassador Martin Ney said the third Inter-Governmental Consultations are expected to come out with "path-breaking results" and inking of "substantial" number of agreements between the two countries.
Tomorrow, the German Chancellor will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhawan. She will also visit Rajghat to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.
Both Modi and Merkel will have one-on-one meetings before delegation-level talks. Merkel will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee.
The Chancellor and the Prime Minister will visit Bengaluru on October 6, where both will participate in a business event hosted by NASSCOM and the Fraunhofer Institute.
Modi and Merkel are scheduled to address the event and also participate in a working lunch with high-ranking businessleaders from India and Germany.
The two leaders will also visit the innovation and skilling centres at the German company M/s Bosch.
The Chancellor is accompanied by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt, Education Minister Johanna Wanka and Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Müller.
Several other federal ministries will be represented by state ministers or state secretaries at the Inter-Governmental Consultations.
"I am convinced that the Indo-German Intergovernmental Consultations will be a resounding success. We will conclude substantial agreements that enable us to further complement our respective strengths.
"It will be an event at which natural partners move even closer together," Ambassador Ney had said at a press conference last week.
During Merkel's visit, both the countries are likely to address the sticky German language issue as they are learnt to have made "substantial progress" in this regard.
As per sources, under the broad understanding between the two sides, India will continue to teach German as an additional language in keeping with its three-language policy while Germany will promote Indian languages, including Sanskrit, in their educational institutions.
German was introduced as a third language in Kendriya Vidyalaya Schools on the basis of a memorandum of understanding signed between the KVS and the Goethe Institute in 2011.
However, in November last year, the Human Resources Development ministry had decided to discontinue teaching of German as an alternative to Sanskrit and cited "national interests" for its decision.