Modi lands in UK today, deals worth £10-15bn may take off
DIPLOMACY Prime minister to engage with British PM David Cameron, have lunch with Queen Elizabeth
LONDON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will arrive in London on Thursday on a threeday visit, one that is likely to reset relations between India and the United Kingdom. It will be an Indian prime minister’s first visit to Britain in almost a decade, after Manmohan Singh’s trip in 2006.
India and Britain could announce deals worth £10-15 billion during the visit, with New Delhi seeking investments for infrastructure, especially in railways, and Britain expecting to sign major contracts in the defence and civil nuclear energy sectors. A deal to buy 20 more Hawk trainer aircraft is also expected.
While the visit is expected
to breathe new life into Indo-British ties, it is also being seen as a personal triumph for Modi, who was boycotted by the UK after the 2002 Gujarat riots. However, it was under Prime Minister David Cameron — with whom Modi will closely engage during the visit — that Britain became the first western country
to lift the boycott in 2012.
The visit is likely to have some similarities with Modi’s last visit to London in 2003, when groups staged protests amid demands for his arrest. This time, too, several groups have planned protests against him.
However, the text and the
context of Modi’s engagement with Britain has changed since. He will now be much courted by the British establishment. His schedule also includes a lunch with Queen Elizabeth at the Buckingham Palace — a rare honour for a visiting Indian prime minister.
Besides lunch with the Queen, another indication of the host’s enthusiasm is the fact that Cameron will be by Modi’s side at almost every event on his itinerary. He will also sit through Modi’s address to the diaspora at the Wembley Stadium. Britain is home to an Indian diaspora of 1.5 million.
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