UK visit aimed at strengthening ties with traditional friend: Modi

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New Delhi, Nov 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a five-day visit to Britain beginning Thursday with a focus on ramping up trade and investment and deepen ties in defence, security and energy sectors besides stepping up cooperation in combating terrorism and extremism.

Ahead of the visit, he exuded confidence that his trip will deeen bilateral ties in a range of areas with a particular focus on expanding economic and defence cooperation.

'UK visit aimed at strengthening ties'

Modi will have lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace -- an honour usually only accorded to heads of state, and deliver an address at the British Parliament. He will also address a reception at the Wembley stadium, expected to be attended by around 60,000 people.

Modi will have wide-ranging talks with his counterpart David Cameron and both sides are likely to sign a number of pacts besides issuing an "outcome document" besides separate statements on defence and security and partnership on energy security.

"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. India and UK are two vibrant democracies, which are proud of their diversity and multicultural societies," Modi said in a Facebook post. The two leaders will meet in London and then at Chequers, where Modi will stay, a first for an Indian Prime Minister.

Cameron had visited India thrice as Prime Minister and he and Modi had bilateral talks during G-20 summit in Brisbane last year and in New York recently on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said reviving Indian economy will be one of the major aspects of the visit and the Prime Minister will interact with CEOs at a roundtable in London.

Modi will visit Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover factory at Solihull. The bilateral trade between the two countries is around USD 14 billion and both sides believe it can go up significantly. "My message to the business community is clear -- come, make use of the opportunities India is offering and invest in India," Modi said.

He said expanding defence cooperation will be another focus area. "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," he said. He said there will be deliberations on clean energy besides exploring ways to enhance cooperation in the fields of science, technology and education.

During his tight schedule, Modi will visit the place where B R Ambedkar lived during his stay in London between 1921-22. On November 14, he will unveil a statue of Basaveshwara, a scholar and philosopher known for his contribution to India's culture and tradition.

PTI 

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