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Singh, Blair to discuss trade, security next week

Trade and security are expected to be on top of the agenda when PM Manmohan meets Tony Blair in London.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2006 09:39 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Trade and security are expected to be on top of the agenda when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh meets his British counterpart Tony Blairin Londonearly next week during a three-day visit.

Latest figures show that India has emerged as the second largest investor in the United Kingdom after the United States. Analysis based on recent figures by consultants Ernst & Young show that there has been a nearly three-fold increase in the number of projects announced by Indian companies in the UK in the first half of 2006.

Indian companies have been seeking wider access to Britain's healthcare products and services. India is also seeking major investments for rail, air and energy infrastructure projects over the next 10 years. Singh and Blair are expected to briefly attend the Indo-UK Investment Summit on October 9.

During the visit, Singh will travel to Cambridge to receive a honorary doctorate. He was awarded a similar honour by Oxford University in July 2005. His speech at Cambridge will be keenly awaited by many, particularly because he had made some revisionist observations of British rule in India during his speech at the similar ceremony in Oxford.

In the speech, which had attracted some controversy in India, Singh had observed: "Today, with the balance and perspective offered by the passage of time and the benefit of hindsight, it is possible for an Indian prime minister to assert that India's experience with Britain had its beneficial consequences too.

"Our notions of the rule of law, of a constitutional government, of a free press, of a professional civil service, of modern universities and research laboratories have all been fashioned in the crucible where an age-old civilisation met the dominant empire of the day."

At Cambridge, Singh will be presented the honorary doctor of law degree on October 11 by Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who is also the chancellor of the university.

Singh received his first class honours degree in economics from the university in 1957. He followed this with a D.Phil in economics from Nuffield College at Oxford University in 1962.

Diplomatic sourcessaid that apart from trade, a major issue for discussion between Singh and Blair will be security - in particular, counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence. India's charge that Pakistan intelligence agencies were involved in the recent Mumbai blasts is also expected to figure in the discussions, they said.

Other security related issues include arrangements for forthcoming events such as the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games and drawing up rules on dealing with organisations that fund terrorism on a global basis.

In a foreign policy speech on March 21, Blair had stated that that political causes that could have been resolved such as Chechnya and Kashmir "became brutally incapable of resolution under the pressure of terrorism."

The sources said that no document was expected to be released after the Singh-Blair meeting. They described the meeting as 'nothing special' and indicated that the two leaders would be meeting at a time when there was a general commonality of views between the two governments on most issues.

First Published: Oct 07, 2006 09:39 IST