UK to boost trade and nuclear cooperation with India
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday that London and New Delhi were on course to double bilateral trade by 2015 and boost nuclear cooperation.
Hague, on a short stop-over in New Delhi, held high-level talks with Indian dignitaries, including Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid to strengthen bilateral ties.
India offers the largest market for British goods outside the European Union.
Addressing reporters in New Delhi, Hague said UK was expected to meet the target of doubling trade with India by 2015.
"Since 2010, our partnership has truly become, stronger, wider and deeper already and we are on course to hit our target of doubling trade by 2015. British companies are leading their way in that, investing in India in key sectors such as energy and telecommunications and education," he said.
India is the third-largest investor in UK.
One of the main beneficiaries of Britain's increased economic focus on India would be the civil nuclear sector.
Keeping in mind, India's growing needs for civil nuclear energy, British Foreign Secretary emphasised on strengthening civil nuclear cooperation.
"I am also pleased by the progress we are making to strengthen our civil nuclear cooperation both commercially and through our research institutions," he said.
India aims to lift its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW in the next 20 years by adding nearly 30 reactors. The country currently operates 20 mostly small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW, or 2 percent of its total power capacity, according to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.
Earlier this week, Canada allowed export of uranium and nuclear reactors to India for the first time in almost four decades under an agreement between the two nations, their prime ministers said, but more work is needed to implement the deal.
Meanwhile, addressing the current Syrian crisis, Hague underlined the urgent need to address the boiling issue in the Gulf.
"Well I am concerned, the longer the crisis in Syria goes on, the greater is the opportunity for extremists groups to gain a foothold or to increase their strength or to recruit foreign fighters into Syria and this why it is so important, so urgent to achieve a resolution of this crisis," he said.
Western countries have been thwarted from taking strong action at the United Nations Security Council by Russia and China, who have vetoed tough draft resolutions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
It is unclear how tougher action could be taken against Assad given Russian and Chinese resistance, but analysts have suggested unilateral action might be an option.
Khurshid said that India supports United Nations in efforts to bring peace in Syria.
"We do want a resolution and a quick resolution because the situation is beginning to look alarming. We have an interest in peace and we will continue to support all efforts that are being made to bring a peaceful resolution," he said.
A plan to unite Syria's opposition groups has run into trouble almost as soon as it was put on the table, according to participants at talks intended to win support from foreign powers hoping to see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad toppled.
The Syrian opposition estimates some 38,000 people have been killed since a March 2011 uprising against Assad's rule, the initially peaceful protests turning into armed rebellion in response to brutal crackdowns by Assad's forces.