David Cameron to visit India today

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 18, 2013 04:04 hrs

London: Seeking to build "one of the great partnerships" of the 21st century, British Prime Minister David Cameron will begin a three-day official visit to India from Monday during which he will meet his counterpart Manmohan Singh and discuss issues of common interest.

Accompanied by a high-level business delegation, Cameron will arrive in Mumbai, where his programmes include a visit to Hindustan Unilever headquarters, a business interaction at Taj Palace Hotel, a visit to St Xavier School and laying a wreath at the Police Memorial.

Cameron will hold discussions with Prime Minister Singh in New Delhi on February 19 and discuss bilateral and global issues of common interest. He will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee on the same day. The British Prime Minister last visited India in July 2010.

His visit to India comes on the heel of a visit by French President Francois Hollande to drum up trade and bilateral relations.

Ahead of his visit, Cameron said that he wanted the relationship between India and the UK to be "one of the great partnerships of the 21st century".

Cameron's delegation will include representatives of Small and Medium enterprises. British retailers are keen to increase their presence in India and executives from the Tesco supermarket chain, Britain's biggest retailer which already has a joint venture in India, are expected to accompany him.

The Prime Minister is confident that he will reach the goal of doubling Britain's trade with India from 11.5 billion pounds in 2010 to 23 billion by 2015.

Cameron will also use the trip to correct any misunderstandings about his government's drive to bring immigration numbers under control amid concerns that Indian students could be deterred from applying to study in Britain.

Admitting that the government "haven't perhaps communicated this properly" to would-be students, Cameron told the ethnic TV media here that there was "no limit" on the numbers of Indian students studying at British universities or staying on in graduate-level jobs.

He said he was "really, really enthusiastic" about the prospects for increased trade between the two countries.

"We both want to see jobs, we want to see growth, we want to see investment.”

"It's very special partnership between Britain and India. We've got these ties of history, language, culture, but really I see it as a very strong relationship about the future - huge investment from India into Britain, huge investment from Britain into India, lots of our businesses partnering, lots of trade and lots of jobs."

About 700 Indian companies have operations in the UK with over 70 of them listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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