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British foreign minister to interview Amartya Sen

Britain's foreign minister will be in a high-profile "conversation" with Indian Nobel-laureate Amartya Sen before the world's press Monday but organisers can't say what they will be talking about.

books Updated: Apr 20, 2009 10:38 IST

Britain's foreign minister will be in a high-profile "conversation" with Indian Nobel-laureate Amartya Sen before the world's press Monday but organisers can't say what they will be talking about.

More than 50 journalists from 26 countries have signed up for the Monday morning event that will mark the launch of the London Book Fair.

Coming from countries as diverse as Croatia, China, Russia, America, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Iran, the journalists have been told only that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband will be "interviewing" Sen, a leading international economist.

"We don't know what they'll be talking about? could be the economy," a Foreign Office spokesman guessed.

A spokeswoman for the London Book Fair thought the conversation - or interview - could be about "books".

Miliband, who left his Indian hosts mildly miffed by referring to Kashmir in a January speech, said in a short statement that he was "delighted to be taking part in this conversation with Amartya Sen".

Sen, the Lamont University Professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University, flies in from the US, where he has been speaking to packed audiences about 'Capitalism and Confusion'.

Sen said: "I am looking forward to the conversation with David Miliband, and later in the day with (writers) Vikram Seth, Nandan Nilekani and Ramachandra Guha."

Lord Neil Kinnock, Chair of the British Council, the cultural diplomacy arm of the British government, added: "I am very pleased that the British Council has been able to bring David and Amartya together at the London Book Fair.

"We are part of the biggest festival of Indian literature ever outside the sub-continent and I am proud of the British Council's role in making this happen."

Alistair Burtenshaw, group exhibition director, The London Book Fair, said he was confident that Sen will be "greatly impressed by the diversity and range of publishing innovation being showcased in London".

Sen will also give the London Book Fair's keynote speech at the prestigious Chairman's Breakfast, entitled 'India in the Modern World'.

Some 50 leading writers, translators, critics and academics as well as 90 publishers working in 15 Indian languages are set to attend the April 20-22 fair - the largest ever festival of Indian writing in Britain.

The writers include Javed Akhtar, Amit Chaudhuri, Namdeo Dhasal, Ramachandra Guha, Jaishree Misra, Daljit Nagra, Anita Nair, Bhalchandra Nemade, Nandan Nilekani, K. Satchidanandan, Shankar, Vikram Seth, Pavan Varma and Sunil Gangopadhyay.