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Mar 06, 2013 at 02:48am IST

Germany delinks Narendra Modi's image from human rights issues

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of the European Union ending decade-old boycott of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Germany on Tuesday sought to make distinction between human rights issues and image of the BJP leader, saying both cannot be linked.

"The question whether we talk to Modi or not has nothing to do with our position on human rights or rights of women. We don't want to continue that debate," German Ambassador Michael Steiner said.

He made the comment at a briefing on an event being organised by German Embassy to commemorate International Women's Day on March 8.

Germany delinks Modi's image from human rights issues

The German Ambassador to India said Modi has been an elected Chief Minister for the third time and that the courts are occupied with case for 10 years.

Steiner was asked whether it was not contradictory for German government to speak about women rights issues and at the same time supporting Modi under whose chief ministership the women suffered a lot during the 2002 communal riots.

He was also referred to Modi's controversial comments in August 2012 when he attributed high rate of malnutrition in his state to figure conscious young girls. Refusing to speak further on the issue, Steiner said Modi has been an elected Chief Minister for the third time and that the courts are occupied with case for 10 years.

European Union has ended over a decade-old boycott of Modi. In October 2012, Britain, a member of the EU, had ended its decade-long boycott of Gujarat when its High Commissioner to India James Bevan met Modi to mark a "cordial beginning" to fresh ties, with the two discussing opportunities for greater economic cooperation.

Steiner also complimented the campaign by women rights group in India in the wake of the December 16 gangrape of a 23-year-old and said the incident "catalysed" a high-level debate across the globe.

"Our sympathies go to 'Nirbhaya' and her family. This tragic event has catalysed a high level debate across the globe," he said.

"We want to contribute to this debate and support it. It's a concern for us. The traditional view of interaction between government to government is not true anymore. It must be between the civil societies of countries," Steiner said.

"This year's international women's day (March 8) is not about mothers, daughters, sisters or wives. But it's about women and their empowerment. In the end women should be the decisive factor," the ambassador added.