New Delhi: From the clean, crisp air of Berlin in the "good" category of the Air Quality Index (AQI), German Chancellor Angela Merkel landed in New Delhi that has been grappling with air quality in the "severe" levels.
With the AQI touching the 300-mark in South and Central Delhi where Merkel will stay and interact with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a two-day visit, the embassy is ready with its protective measures.
News18 was told that anti-pollution face masks have been kept for the delegation that has left Germany and is heading for India. All hotel suites where they stay have air purifiers in place.
Merkel will be accompanied by three cabinet ministers, nine junior ministers, and secretary-level officers. In all, 12 of the 15 ministries will be represented in her team.
During her visit from October 31 to November 2, Modi and Merkel are expected to deliberate on key regional and global issues including the situation in Afghanistan, West Asia and Korean peninsula. The two are expected to sign nearly 20 agreements as well.
Merkel was received at the airport by MoS Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh. She will meet with the Indian leadership, besides a business delegation, during her visit. She will be accorded a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday morning and will pay tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat later in the day.
Enriching the strategic texture of our relationship.— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) October 31, 2019
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Delhi beginning her State visit to India during which she, along with PM @narendramodi will co-chair the 5th 🇮🇳- 🇩🇪 IGC.This would be the 5th meeting between the leaders within a year pic.twitter.com/Ie1lfafGf6
Merkel will co-chair the 5th IGC with Modi following which the two leaders will make press statements and a raft of agreements will be signed between the two sides. She will call on President Ram Nath Kovind in the evening and will also hold a meeting with Modi at his Lok Kalyan Marg residence.
On Saturday, the German leader will meet a business delegation and visit Continental Automotive Components India Pvt Ltd in Manesar, Gurgaon. Before heading home, the chancellor will visit the Dwarka Sector 21 Metro Station.
Ahead of the visit, German envoy to India Walter J Lindner had said the Modi and Merkel have a "very good relationship and they can talk about any issue. I do not want to anticipate what the two leaders will be talking about".
He was responding to a question on whether the Kashmir issue will be discussed between them.
Lindner had said the position of Germany on Kashmir is consistent with that of the European Union which had asked India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue through dialogue, seeking a peaceful and political solution, respectful of the interests of the Kashmiri population on both sides of the Line of Control.
Interestingly, Germany and India have been engaging in issues relating to environment and sustainability. The country is associated with the Namami Gange project to clean up the river, based on its experience of cleaning up Rhine.
India and Germany have been strategic partners since 2001. Both the countries have a mechanism of intergovernmental consultations at the level of head of governments which allows for a comprehensive review of cooperation and identification of fresh areas of engagement.
India is among a select group of countries with which Germany has such a dialogue mechanism.
Meanwhile, India has accepted a request by the German government to allow Merkel to remain seated while the national anthems of both countries are played during a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday as she is suffering from a medical condition. It is learnt that certain provisions of the order relating to the National Anthem of India will be invoked to allow Merkel to be seated when the national anthem is played.
Merkel's difficulties in standing without support are known and lately, she has been seen seated at ceremonial events, both at home and abroad, which would have normally required her to stand.
The exemption as per the order is being invoked based on a request from the German side to accommodate the Chancellor's wish to be accorded the ceremonial welcome, it is learnt.
Earlier this year, Merkel dismissed concerns about her health after visibly trembling at an official ceremony in Berlin, and said it was just dehydration due to the heat.
(With inputs from PTI)