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Britain seeks to be India's partner of choice: Cameron

Mumbai, Feb 18 (IANS) British Prime Minister David Cameron, who arrived in India's commercial capital Monday at the head of a 100-member delegation, said Britain is looking to be "India's partner of choice" and he is impressed to see India's rise.

"India's rise is going to be one of the great phenomena of this century and it is incredibly impressive to see - the vibrancy of your democracy, the great strength of the diversity of your country and the enormous power of your economy, that is going to be one of the top three economies by 2030," he said while addressing officials and executives of Hindustan Unilever here.

"Britain wants to be your partner of choice. We've only just started on the sort of partnership that we could build," he said adding: "As far as I'm concerned, the sky is the limit."

Starting his visit with an agenda to forge greater trade ties with India, he said: "UK can forge one of the great partnerships of the 21st century with India."

Cameron said that it is fantastic to be back in Mumbai. "I am very proud of the fact that I have been the prime minister for two-and-a-half-years and this is my second visit to India, because I want Britain and India to have a very special relationship," he said.

Stating that he has brought to India the biggest delegation out of Britain, Cameron said Britain wants to tie up with India in many different ways.

He also said that both India and Britain have been facing the problem of terrorism alike and said that both countries should come together to fight the menace.

Cameron laid a wreath at the memorial as a gesture of solidarity with family members of those killed during the 26/11 terrorist attack in the city.

In a measure to attract more Indian businessmen and students, Cameron announced a same-day visa service for investors and no limit on the number of students from the country.

Regarding Indian students in Britain, he said there would be "no limit" on the number of Indian students who can come and study in universities there, no cap on the length of time they will be allowed to live and work in graduate-level jobs after they complete their qualifications.

Offering immense investment opportunities for Indian companies in Britain, Cameron said: "When I see Indian investments into Britain, I only see hope. Investment like Jaguar and Land Rover, which is a massive international success story. We welcome that sort of investments."

He said Britain is also exploring to reduce the trade barriers with India and expected India to reciprocate.

In a blogpost, Cameron posted: "As India grows, it needs a partner that can support its ambition. India plans to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure over five years. It wants to quadruple its electricity capacity and to invest $143 billion to meet its growing demands for healthcare.

"It wants its business to have unrivalled access to European and global markets and its students to get the best education in the world. Britain can do all of these things and more. The companies and organisations in this delegation are uniquely placed to meet India's demands. We want to attract India's brightest and best students. And I intend to say so at every opportunity.

"But I know that my role as Prime Minister is also about more than helping promote your businesses. It's also about making sure we get the business environment right. On this trip we are pushing to do just that - including through laying the foundations for a free trade agreement that could deliver new deals, jobs and growth for generations to come. You can help us get closer to the finishing line by galvanising Indian private sector partners to help the Government of India understand that it's a win-win.

"This week's visit is vital, but our commitment is about more than one week. It is a week-in, week-out determination to help you secure more trade, more investment and more jobs - and with it, to make Britain and India one of the defining relationships of this century."

Indo Asian News Service

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