Seeking to build “one of the great partnerships” of the 21st century, British Prime Minister David Cameron begins a three-day official visit to India on Monday during which he will meet his counterpart Manmohan Singh and discuss issues of common interest.
PM Cameron arrives in the middle of a major helicopter purchase scandal involving Augusta-Westland for which the Indian government has requested London’s help. He will also try to convince India to purchase the Eurofighter Typhoon, a defence order in the range of 15bn dollars and with France as the main competitor.
Accompanied by a high-level business delegation of over 100 representatives, Cameron will arrive in Mumbai, where his programs 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 heels of a visit by French President Francois Hollande to drum up trade and bilateral relations. Hollande and Manmohan Singh failed to finalize the 14bn deal to buy 126 French Dassault Rafale fighters. The UK delegation includes defense manufacturers such as BAE Systems, which helps make the Eurofighter jet, EADS UK, Rolls Royce and Thales UK.
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 pounds 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.