NEW DELHI     -     The conditions in which the people of Occupied Kashmir are living are unsustainable and must be improved, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters accompanying her on a trip to New Delhi where she is holding talks with India’s prime minister.

She said she would raise the matter with Narendra Modi later on Friday evening, adding that while she was aware of India’s position regarding the region, parts of which are claimed by neighbouring Pakistan, she wanted to hear Modi’s plans for restoring calm to the region.

“The situation for the people there is currently not sustainable and must improve,” Merkel said.

According to Indian media, the German Chancellor’s comments came after New Delhi and Berlin agreed to work on bilateral and multilateral platforms to counter terrorism and extremism.

Angela Merkel on Friday expressed concern for the people of Kashmir and said that the lockdown of the region cannot be supported for long. “The situation now for the people (in Kashmir) is not good and not sustainable. This has to be improved for sure,” said Merkel to a group of German journalists who travelled to Delhi for the visit.

Indian officials said developments in Kashmir were not part of the bilateral delegation-level talks held at Hyderabad House, but that Merkel expected to hear from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the government’s roadmap for Jammu and Kashmir during her formal dinner on Friday night.

The German leader who is on a three-day visit sealed 17 MoUs and five Joint Declarations of Intent covering a wide range of issues including agriculture, education, marine science and heritage conservation.

“We will intensify bilateral and multilateral cooperation to deal with threats like terrorism and extremism. We are grateful to Germany for its strong support to India’s membership in export control regimes and various international forums,” said Modi in his formal press statement at the Hyderabad House.

Both sides signed Memoranda of Understanding covering cooperation in space research, marine ecology preservation, agriculture, Artificial Intelligence and other areas.