Germany intends to step up its engagements in a wide range of fields from solar energy to intelligence sharing and even civil nuclear cooperation with several high-level bilateral engagements lined up in the coming months.

German Ambassador Thomas Matussek said this in an interaction with journalists of The Hindu here.

In order to sweeten the offer of 126 fighter planes by a European consortium, Germany, which heads it, is thinking of pushing for civil nuclear cooperation in areas of interest to India.

“After the Nuclear Suppliers Group clearance, I don’t see any impediment. In some areas, we can make offers you can’t refuse,” he said.

While the multi-billion dollar contract for fighters is the cynosure of Berlin’s attention, it is also keen on promoting the prospects of Europe-based companies on other tenders for military hardware. Mr. Matussek took up with the government the impasse in awarding the tender for refuellers for Airbus and has professed interest in promoting the German company HDW for the coming order for submarines. “We hope we will be able to get the submarine deal. It will be easier since we shelved the deal with Pakistan,” he said.

Bureaucratic hurdles

German National Security Adviser Christoph Heusgen would begin his official engagements here on Monday centring on removing bureaucratic hurdles in exchange of real-time information on terrorism and promoting closer cooperation on the civilian side, especially in view of the coming conference on Afghanistan next month.

“Exchange of information is important. By doing that we had fortunately prevented a major thing [terrorist incident] here. By watching real-time flows of intelligence, we foiled six-seven cases in Germany. But often the bureaucracy stands in the way of greater practical partnership,” said Mr. Matussek.

The visit early next year by German President Hoerst Koehler would focus on issues such as a proposal to set up a massive solar plant in the Thar Desert on the lines of the Sahara desert project by a consortium of German companies. “We are putting up a huge solar field in northern Africa over an area of 40,000 sq. km., which would meet all the energy needs of the European Union by 2050. We can do that in the Thar Desert,” Mr. Matussek, who took charge of his new post last month but is familiar with the country as he had served as the Press Attache between 1983 and 1986.

“Hidden champions”

Germany was also keen on promoting its “hidden champions” -- companies that had been active in India but not been in public limelight -- such as Bosch and Bombardier, besides striking industry-to-industry partnerships in areas such as information technology, research and development and software. “This aspect will also be taken up extensively during the German President’s weeklong visit beginning on February 1,” said Mr. Matussek.

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