Modi in London for three-day visit to Britain

London, Nov 12 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in London on Thursday for a three-day visit that will see India and Britain sign a number of pacts on mutual investments and defence cooperation.

Modi was received at Heathrow International Airport, among others, by British Minister of State for the Foreign Commonwealth Office Hugo Swire, British High Commissioner to India James David Evan, Indian High Commissioner to Britain Ranjan Mathai, and British Minister of State for Employment Priti Patel, who is of Indian origin.

“My visit is aimed at strengthening cooperation with a traditional friend that is not only a major economic partner of India but also one of the leading economic players of the world,” Modi said in a series of pre-departure Facebook posts.

“India and UK are two vibrant democracies, which are proud of their diversity and multicultural societies,” he said.

Modi’s visit to Britain is the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister in nine years after Manmohan Singh’s visit in 2006. Singh also visited Britain in 2009 to attend the G-20 summit.

“UK is one of the fastest growing G-7 economies and is home to a strong financial services sector,” Modi said. “I see immense scope for our economic and trade relations to improve and this will benefit both our economies,” he added.

On Thursday, Modi will be presented a guard of honour and an official welcome by his British counterpart David Cameron following which the two leaders will hold bilateral talks and delegation-level discussions.

Modi will then address a joint session of the British parliament and thus become the first Indian prime minister to do so.

Following this, he will address the City of London at the Old Library in Guildhall.

He will then continue talks with Cameron at the Chequers, the countryside retreat of the British prime minister, and spend the night there.

On Friday, Modi’s schedule is filled with business engagements, including an address to a CEOs roundtable.

The UK CEO Forum has urged Modi to create a better business environment in India and simplify the tax regime. It has also called for protection of intellectual property rights and changes to India’s defence equipment procurement policy.

He will also be hosted for lunch by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, a signal honour.

He will then address the Indian diaspora at the iconic Wembley Stadium in London.

On November 14, Modi will leave for Turkey to attend the annual G-20 summit.

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