With German Chancellor Angela Merkel set to fly off to Brazil to watch the German football team play the FIFA World Cup finals, her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not take place as planned.
The Modi-led Indian delegation will be in Berlin for an overnight halt on July 13, when a meeting with Merkel was on the cards. From there, it will head to Brazil for the BRICS summit.
It is learnt the Indian delegation had done its groundwork for Modi’s first bilateral visit beyond the subcontinent. In the past, overnight halts by the PM’s plane have usually been in Frankfurt. However, because of the planned bilateral visit this time, the stopover was kept at the German capital, which is not a common transit point for the PM’s delegation when he travels to the US or South America.
It remains to be seen whether the Germans send a high-level minister or an official to pay a courtesy visit to the PM, in a bid to assuage the Indian side. Merkel will not cross paths with Modi in Brazil either as the PM is going to Fortaleza, while she will be in Rio de Janeiro.
Sources said arrangements for the Indian delegation’s stay have been made in a Berlin luxury hotel and the formalities for the landing of Air India One have been completed at Berlin international airport.
It is learnt that the Ministry of External Affairs was prepared for a meeting should Germany not make it to the final. During Tuesday’s media briefing, Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for the MEA, had said, “I see football fever is catching up with all of you and I understand we are all football fans. I find it very interesting that not only are you football fans but are interested in linking it up with diplomacy. Let me tell you the dates… the date will be the 13th and the PM will transit through Germany. As regards anything else, I have also said previously that should there be anything beyond a transit, we will certainly share that information with you. Until then it is what it is.”
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.