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India is Britain’s closest friend, a leading world power: Theresa May

india Updated: Nov 07, 2016 00:59 IST
Theresa may's India visit

In this Nov 2 photo, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the press sat 10 Downing Street in London.(AP)

Describing India as one of the UK’s “most important and closest” friends and a leading power in the world, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday she will hold talks with counterpart Narendra Modi to bolster bilateral strategic ties.

May reached New Delhi on Sunday night on a three-day visit aimed at enhancing partnership in the key areas of trade, investment, defence and security.

Ahead of her visit to India --- which is May’s first bilateral visit outside the UK --- an article published in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ quoted her as saying that she plans to “promote the best of Britain” during her three-day trade mission to New Delhi and Bengaluru.

May will hold talks with counterpart Narendra Modi to bolster bilateral strategic ties in areas such as defence, security and trade.

She writes: “One of our most important and closest friends has to be India -- a leading power in the world, with whom we share so much history, culture and so may values, and which is led by a Prime Minister who is undertaking a far-reaching programme of reform.

Read: Bogged down by Brexit, Britain PM Theresa May turns to India for good news

“In other words, we are two countries with strong ties, a mature relationship and an opportunity to make that even deeper.

“That is why, today I will be travelling to India for my first bilateral visit outside Europe and first trade mission as Prime Minister, accompanied by a range of top British businesses, including some of our brightest small and medium enterprises.

“We will be promoting the best of Britain, sending out the message that we are open for business, and making the most of the opportunities offered by Brexit as the world’s foremost champion of free trade.”

May, who will hold bilateral talks with PM Modi on Monday, said she will seek concrete steps to move the partnership forward during the meeting.

Read more: India explores special visa options before UK PM Theresa May’s visit

“I will be using this visit to reaffirm the importance of the strategic partnership we already have, which delivers huge benefits for both our countries, and to work with Prime Minister Modi to agree to concrete steps to realise our shared vision of going even further in our cooperation across trade, investment, defence and security.

“Building 100 new ‘Smart Cities’, encouraging firms to ‘Make in India’, getting the country online with ‘Digital India’, delivering better healthcare, infrastructure, skills and finance -- these form Prime Minister Modi’s vision, and with our world-class architects, lawyers, financiers, engineers, medics, academics and tech experts, Britain is the ideal partner to help achieve that, creating jobs and growth in both our countries.”

Dismissing any talk of a free trade agreement (FTA), she said while an FTA cannot be signed until the official Brexit process, engagement with countries outside the EU can be stepped up.