German Chancellor Olaf Scholz plans to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the special guest to a Group of Seven leaders’ summit next month as part of an effort to forge a broader international alliance against Russia.
Germany, which currently holds the rotating G-7 presidency, will also welcome the leaders of Indonesia, South Africa and Senegal to the gathering in the Bavarian Alps June 26 to June 28, said people with knowledge of the matter. The decision could be announced as early as Monday, when Mr Scholz welcomes PM Modi for talks in Berlin and a joint German-Indian cabinet meeting.
Scholz was undecided on PM Modi’s invitation until a few weeks ago given the prime minister’s reluctance to condemn Russia’s invasion
But the German Chancellor has decided the G-7 should court India, with its growing population and long democratic tradition, as a potentially valuable partner in efforts to isolate Russia, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr Scholz also sees an opportunity to work closely with PM Modi in other policy areas such as climate change and defense.
The German government wants to strengthen bilateral ties with India in the coming years and also supports the European Union’s efforts to embrace the country by offering economic incentives which could help it rethink its ties to Russia, the people added.
In their meeting on Monday, Scholz and PM Modi will discuss how to further ease immigration rules for skilled workers from India to tackle labour shortages in Europe’s largest economy, and how to accelerate technology transfer to India in the push to reduce climate-damaging carbon emissions.
In the medium term, Germany also wants European defense companies to offer India an alternative to Russian weapons deliveries, as a way to reduce its reliance on Moscow. No deals or agreements are expected to be sealed on Monday.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Scholz wants to strengthen Germany’s political and economic ties to democratically ruled countries around the world. That was why the 63-year-old Social Democrat picked Japan for his first Asian trip as chancellor last week; his predecessors typically visited China first, with huge business delegations.
India was among the more than 50 countries that abstained from a United Nations vote to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council in April. Germany and its G-7 allies, including the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Japan and Canada, have imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia, but few other countries have joined those efforts — and many governments in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East remain reluctant to do so.
The seven governments have been coordinating efforts to engage key countries, and India is high on that list.
Germany has been criticized by some European allies for not sending heavy weapons such as tanks to Ukraine, and for rejecting an immediate import ban for Russian fossil fuels, including oil and natural gas.