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Kashmiris' situation is unsustainable: Merkel

photo by AP photo

German Chancellor Merkel signs the visitors book during her visit to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Rajghat in New Delhi

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03rd-Nov-2019       
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Reuters, New Delhi  :
The conditions in which the people of Kashmir are living are unsustainable and must be improved, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters accompanying her on a trip to New Delhi where she is holding talks with India's prime minister.
She said she would raise the matter with Narendra Modi later on Friday evening, adding that while she was aware of India's position regarding the province, parts of which are claimed by neighboring Pakistan, she wanted to hear Modi's plans for restoring calm to the region.
"The situation for the people there is currently not sustainable and must improve," Merkel said. The province has been convulsed by protests against New Delhi's decision to revoke the mainly Muslim area's political autonomy.
New Delhi: German Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the Kashmir issue during her talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday evening, and conveyed that the "situation for the people in Kashmir is unsustainable and not good", according to German journalists accompanying her. Merkel, accompanied by several cabinet colleagues and a business delegation, is in India on a three-day visit that began on Thursday.
We're encouraging our private sectors to give an impetus to our growing bilateral trade and Chancellor Merkel and I will meet some of the top business and industry leaders, Modi told a joint news conference with the German leader.
We're encouraging our private sectors to give an impetus to our growing bilateral trade and Chancellor Merkel and I will meet some of the top business and industry leaders, Modi said. Bilateral trade between the two countries rose to $24.06 billion (18.5 billion pounds) in the 2018/19 fiscal year ending in March from $22 billion the previous year, while German companies have invested nearly $12 billion in India since 2000.
Germany is India's largest trading partner in Europe and more than 1,700 German companies are operating in India.
The agreements struck on strategic cooperation, included agriculture, cyber security and artificial intelligence. Modi said the two countries would also bolster ties to combat terrorism and extremism.
Although Merkel and Modi didn't mention anything about restarting talks on finalising a free trade agreement between India and the European Union, sources earlier said the two leaders could take up the trade deal.
Michaela Kuefner, the Chief Political Editor at DW, Germany's international TV channel, tweeted that in a "modest pre-dinner criticism of the Kashmir clampdown, Merkel said that "the Situation for the people there is unsustainable and not good". Merkel met Modi for a second round of talks at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, official residence.
She had told German media persons accompanying her that she would raise the matter with Modi on Friday evening, though she was aware of India's position regarding Kashmir.
The German Chancellor's statement comes a day after Jammu and Kashmir was officially bifurcated into two Union Territories-of J&K and Ladakh. The visit to Kashmir earlier this week by a delegation of European Union Parliamentary members, that stirred controversy, could also have figured in the talks.
Earlier in the day, Merkel and Modi held the Fifth Intergovernmental Consultations at Hyderabad House after which the two sides inked over 20 agreements. Earlier, during a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Merkel remained seated while the national anthem of both countries was being played. India accepted a request by the German government to allow Merkel to remain seated as she is suffering from a medical condition.
It is learnt that certain provisions of the order relating to the National Anthem of India were invoked to allow Merkel to be seated when the national anthem is played. However, she was panned on social media for not standing during the national anthem, which is very short.

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