PM to visit India in trade mission
Prime Minister David Cameron will visit India next week with a delegation of British business leaders as part of his drive to double the UK's trade with the emerging economic giant by 2015, Downing Street has announced.
In interviews with the Asian media in Britain ahead of his trip, Mr Cameron said he wants the relationship between the UK and India to be "one of the great partnerships of the 21st century".
And he sent out a message to young Indians that they should not be deterred from applying to study in the UK by the coalition's drive to get immigration numbers under control.
Admitting that the Government "haven't perhaps communicated this properly" to would-be students, he stressed there was "no limit" on the numbers of Indians studying at British universities or staying on in graduate-level jobs.
The PM stressed his own love of India, telling Zee TV how he had spent "fantastic holidays" in Kerala and treasured a signed cricket bat given to him by Sachin Tendulkar. He also revealed that he prefers his curries "pretty hot, actually, sort of medium-hot".
Mr Cameron's visit, which will take in capital New Delhi and commercial centre Mumbai, is his second trip to India as Prime Minister and reflects his policy of building Britain's trade links with the emerging economic powers of the 21st century, including the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Mr Cameron told Zee TV: "My message is that I think Britain and India can be one of the great partnerships of the 21st century. I think it can be a special relationship; there's the history, there are the family ties, there's the culture, there's the language, there's the love of things like cricket.
"But there's an amazing future if we team up our universities, our businesses. There's actually, I don't think, any limit on this relationship... I think Britain should show enormous respect for what India's going to be able to do in the world, and we want to be one of your partners as you grow and succeed."
The Prime Minister steered carefully clear of appearing to interfere in the vexed issue of rival Indian and Pakistani claims to the territory of Kashmir.
Britain wants to "encourage dialogue between India and Pakistan" but "it is for India and Pakistan to take forward, rather than for Britain to try and insert ourselves into a process", he said.