NEW DELHI :
India will invoke a rarely used rule to allow visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel to remain seated while the national anthems of both countries are played during a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday.
The courtesy is being extended to Merkel because of her medical condition.
People aware of the visit said certain provisions from the rules relating to the national anthem of India will be invoked to allow Merkel to be seated during the formal welcome ceremony. Merkel’s difficulties in standing without support are known and lately she has been seen seated at ceremonial events, both at home and abroad, which would have normally required her to stand.
Concerns about Merkel’s health were triggered earlier this year when she appeared shaking uncontrollably on three occasions. The 65-year-old has been at the helm of the government in Germany since she replaced Gerhard Schroeder in 2005, making her the longest-serving political leader of a major western democracy. She has already announced that she does not plan to contest a record fifth term in the next federal election, due in 2021.
In New Delhi, Merkel has a packed two-day schedule with India and Germany expected to sign nearly 20 agreements. Merkel’s delegation includes officials from 12 ministries and topics of discussion with Modi will include artificial intelligence, sustainable development, urban mobility, and agriculture.
“Germany shares very close ties with India and it is one such relationship that it shares with very few countries," German ambassador to India Walter J. Lindner said on Thursday. Linder described India as an “anchor of stability" in South Asia and said that there are many areas of cooperation that the two countries could explore.
Reuters contributed to this story.