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PM to receive doctorate from Cambridge

india Updated: Oct 11, 2006 12:27 IST

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh receives a honorary doctorate in law from Cambridge University on Wednesday, a wrap up to a hectic three-day visit of Britain during which he pledged to step up bilateral cooperation in anti-terror measures and further open up the country's economy.

At a ceremonial ceremony at Cambridge, one of the world's top universities, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh who is also the chancellor, will confer the degree on the Indian prime minister who on Tuesday described his trip to this country as a sentimental journey.

Manmohan Singh will leave by road for Cambridge, walk up to the Old Library where he will have a private meeting with the Duke of Edinburgh and then, attired in a ceremonial gown and robes, attend a function at the Senate where he will get the honorary degree.

He will later attend a reception at St John's College, have lunch at the university and take off for Helsinki where he will spend the next two days meeting leaders of Finland and attending the India-European Union business summit.

Manmohan Singh's speech at Cambridge will be eagerly awaited by many because his revisionist remarks about British rule in India during a similar ceremony in Oxford in July 2005 sparked a row. He was then conferred a doctorate in economics.

His engagements in Helsinki will include a meeting with his Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen.

According to Indian officials, the Indian prime minister will review steps to enhance trade and investment ties between India and the European Union, which is not only New Delhi's largest trading partner but an importance source of FDI and high technology.

A strategic partnership was finalised with the European Union during the Hague summit in 2004 in recognition of India's growing stature. Manmohan Singh is expected to convey the message that India is a secure and profitable trade and investment destination.

The North Korean nuclear test and terrorism in India will also figure in talks to be held at Helsinki. Indian officials say the European Union has not done enough to block transfer of money linked to suspected terrorist groups.

After attending a reception of the Indian Diaspora on Monday night soon after his arrival, Manmohan Singh spent a busy Tuesday holding talks with Blair and meeting Indian and British business leaders.

The two leaders conducted a review of issues of global importance and concern as well as shared perspectives on developments in their regions.

The chemistry between the two leaders was visible at all venues, with Blair asserting at their joint press conference at 10 Downing Street that India can never be compared with a rogue North Korea.

To the glee of British CEOs, Manmohan Singh announced that the booming Indian economy could absorb $320 billion in investments in infrastructure alone in the next five years.

Indian and British business leaders brought to the notice of the two prime ministers problems affecting bilateral economic cooperation, particularly those making British firms hesitant to pump money into India due to procedural and bureaucratic delays.

Addressing the UK-India Investment Summit, he promised further liberalisation in trade and services including financial and legal services.

Manmohan Singh and Blair said India and Britain would step up cooperation in counter-terrorism measures.

"Relations between India and Britain have strengthened in recent years," Blair said at the business summit. "We want to strengthen this further. This is seen by me not just in the economic context but in the political also."

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