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British PM Gordon Brown to visit India on January 21

By H S Rao in London
November 15, 2007 09:58 IST
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British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will visit India for the first time after assuming the top post in January to take part in the fourth India-UK Summit.

"Later in November, we will have the India-European Union Summit in Delhi and on January 21 we will have the India-UK Summit when Prime Minister Gordon Brown will visit us," Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, who is in London as part of the ongoing high-level dialogue between the two countries, said.

The British Prime Minister himself made a reference to his forthcoming visit to India when he spoke at the Diwali celebrations organised in the House of Commons by leading NRI MP Keith Vaz, former minister, and the Hindu Forum of Britain on Wednesday evening.

Brown said he would like to take with him the message of "success of British Indian community" to India and share it with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "who is a good friend."

Praising India, Brown said during his discussions with Prime Minister Singh he would emphasise the need for educating every child and eradicating the scourge of Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"We have very close relations with India since time immemorial," he said.

Sharma said that he had a wide-ranging discussions with Lord Mark Malloch Brown, Minister of State for Africa, Asia and UN, about relations between India and the UK and "the strategic partnership that we have with the European Union."

During the discussions, the Minister said steps required to be taken to further deepen and diversify bilateral engagement in various fields, including trade and commerce came up.

"We said that it is important to ensure linkages of institutions and also to facilitate easier movement of people especially the professionals out of India, students out of India and if that gets hampered, then it does affect us. We are fully reassured that it will receive attention at the highest level," Sharma said at the end of his three-day visit.

The forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Summit also came up as well as developments in India's neighbourhood, he said in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

"We had a very frank exchange of views," the minister added.

Asked about details of the British Prime Minister's visit to India, Sharma said, "The programme is being finalised."

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will travel to Kampala in Uganda to attend the three-day Commonwealth Summit from November 23 where he will also meet Brown.

During his visit, Sharma also visited the House of Lords and interacted with Parliamentarians.

The seed for the India-UK bilateral summit was sown during Singh's visit to the UK on September 19 and 20 in 2004, his first to a western capital after he became prime minister.

He and the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair adopted a Joint Declaration titled 'India-UK: towards a new and dynamic partnership' which envisaged annual Summits, meetings between Foreign Ministers and outlined areas for future cooperation in civil nuclear energy, space, defence, combating terrorism, economic ties, science and technology, education and culture.

Blair visited India in September 2005 in his capacity as EU President for the EU-India Summit on Sept 7 and also for the bilateral Summit held on September 8 in Udaipur.

Singh visited UK from October 9 to 11 last year to attend the third annual India-UK Summit.

The bilateral summit has greatly enabled the two countries to forge close relations in an array of fields including civil aviation, tourism, science and technology, education, counter-terrorism and bilateral trade.

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H S Rao in London
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