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New chapter in ties as Indian foreign secy meets Germany navy chief, warship ‘Bayern’ visits

With Germany identifying India as one of the key partners in its Indo-Pacific policy, a German frigate entered Indian waters for a port call in Mumbai, in a major signal to China.

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New Delhi: India and Germany are opening a new chapter in their defence and security ties as Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla held maritime security cooperation talks with Germany’s navy chief Kay-Achim Schönbach, and a German frigate entered Indian waters for a rare port call.

The developments, seen as a major signal to China, come as Germany strengthens its own Indo-Pacific policy and Berlin identifies New Delhi as one of its key partners in the Indo-Pacific strategic framework.

Germany was the second European country after France to unveil its own Indo-Pacific policy in 2020, even as the world grappled with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which gave rise to calls for free and open sea lanes and the creation of robust and resilient supply chains.

“Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla welcomed German Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Schönbach @chiefdeunavy to India,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, said in a tweet Thursday, adding that the talks had focused on maritime security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific context.

The German frigate — Bayern — arrived in Indian waters Thursday and will be docked at the Mumbai Port Friday, in a move that’s expected to open a new chapter in India-Germany defence and security ties, sources told ThePrint.

The Brandenburg-class frigate, which began its voyage in August 2021, sailed through the South China Sea before reaching India and also took part in monitoring the UN Security Council’s sanctions against North Korea. It is on a patrol and training mission.

It made India its last stop as Germany considers India to be its “strategic partner and democratic friend,” said another source.

The frigate was last docked at the Colombo Port in Sri Lanka on 15 January. Before this, warships from the UK, France and the Netherlands have also made similar rounds of the Indo-Pacific region and taken part in joint naval exercises.

Strategic autonomy, ties with China

Germany’s new Olaf Scholz administration has made it clear that as an export-oriented economy, it will maintain its trade ties with India, but will also begin to assert its strategic autonomy, the source said.

China and Germany are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral ties this year, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held a phone conversation with Chancellor Scholz on 17 January. 

Prior to this, in December, Scholz had held a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where they spoke of deepening their bilateral ties. However, it seems that the Scholz administration will not be following the same approach with China as the previous Angela Merkel regime, which was silent on China’s aggressive stance in the Indo-Pacific region.

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)


Also read: China sharply reacts to German navy chief’s remarks on its growing naval power


 

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