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Modi's Britain visit to focus on bilateral, economic ties

 2015-11-10 15:01:49.0

modiNew Delhi : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said his three-day visit to Britain starting on November 12 will help strengthen ties with a traditional friend.'My visit is aimed at strengthening cooperation with a traditional friend that is not only a major economic partner of India but also one of the leading economic players of the world," Modi said in a series of Facebook posts.

India and UK are two vibrant democracies, which are proud of their diversity and multicultural societies," he wrote. Describing Britain as one of the fastest growing G7 economies and home to a strong financial services sector, he said the country "is known for its innovative zeal and for its creative industries".

He noted Britain has the largest diplomatic presence in India and was the third largest source of foreign investment while India too was the third largest source of FDI in terms of the number of projects in Britain and that he saw "immense scope" for improved economic and trade relations for mutual benefit.

Terming defence as another important sector for bilateral cooperation, he said: "We have traditionally been cooperating extensively on defence and security issues and this visit will build on strong ties. Defence manufacturing will be a prime focus in my talks."Stating that this was the first prime ministerial from India to Britain in almost a decade, Modi said he had the opportunity to meet his British counterpart David Cameron at various international forums and have "productive" meetings.

Prime Minister Cameron is a good friend of India, and we in India have had the privilege of welcoming him thrice during his first term as prime minister," he noted. I will have the honour of meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace at a lunch hosted by her. There will be comprehensive talks with Prime Minister David Cameron. We will meet in London and then at Chequers. We will be discussing a variety of issues of mutual interest."

Modi also stated he would meet CEOs at a roundtable in London. My message to the business community is clear - come, make use of the opportunities India is offering and invest in India," he wrote. Modi said that during his visit, he would also address the British parliament.

I thank the speaker of the House of Commons for this opportunity, considering that the UK Parliament is not in session," he said. I will address the City of London at an event at The Old Library, Guildhall. There will also be a visit to the Jaguar Land Rover factory at Solihull."

In London, Modi would also pay homage at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi near the British parliament. He also addressed the 1.5-million strong Indian diaspora in Britain which he said has "contributed greatly to society in different walks of life. Lakhs of professionals and students are also working and studying in Britain. We want to deepen the bond between our diaspora and the people of India."

He also mentioned that he would address the Indian diaspora on November 13 at London's iconic Wembley Stadium, and also expressed joy at the opportunity to visit the house of Babasaheb Ambedkar during his visit. The place was bought by the Maharashtra government earlier this year and it will be converted into a museum. The prime minister will also unveil a statue of 12th century scholar, philosopher and statesman Basaveshwara.

At a pre-departure media briefing on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar stated that former prime minister Manmohan Singh last made a bilateral visit to Britain in 2006. Manmohan Singh also visited Britain in 2009 to attend the G-20 summit.

Jaishankar said Britain was an important power with considerable global influence. It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and a member of the EU, G-8, G-20, NATO and the important export control regimes of the OECD," Jaishankar said. He said that with London being an important financial centre, "the economic aspects of this visit would be very important".

The foreign secretary said India has the second largest diaspora in Britain. They broadly constitute 2 percent of UK's population," he said, adding that they were well represented politically. He said Britsin was among India's top five science and technology partners. We have 20,000 students and (Britain) is probably the second choice after the US (for Indian students)."

Jaishankar said Modi and Cameron have met each other thrice - at the G-20 summit in Brisbane last year, at then UN General Assembly session in September and "he himself visited India thrice". He said India-Britain relationship has been a strategic one since 2004.(IANS)

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