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Singh, Cameron review bilateral relations

Posted on Feb 19, 04:50PM | IBNS

New Delhi, Feb 19 : Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his British counterpart David Cameron on Tuesday reviewed the entire expanse of bilateral relations between the two countries.

In a statement to media after a meeting with Cameron, Singh said: "This morning, Prime Minister Cameron and I reviewed the entire expanse of our bilateral relations. We expressed satisfaction with progress in our economic engagement, while stressing the need to do more to take the relationship to a new level."

"We discussed ways to generate higher growth in our trade. I invited increased British investments in India, including in infrastructure and energy. We have asked our officials to explore British participation in India's National Manufacturing and Investment Zones and in a possible industrial corridor in the Mumbai-Bangalore sector," he said.

Singh said he has sought Cameron's support in ensuring an early conclusion of a fair, balanced and forward looking Broad-based India-EU Trade and Investment Agreement, which will open new opportunities for trade and investment between the two countries.

"We discussed the prospects of enhanced cooperation in the development of the defence industrial base of India through greater emphasis on technology transfer, co-development and co-production," he said.

Cameron is on a three-day official visit to India.

This is his second trip to India which comes in when the nation is caught up in the alleged scam involving kickbacks in the Rs 3600 crore purchase deal of VVIP choppers from UK based AugustaWestland, the Anglo-Italian helicopter company owned by Italy's Finmeccanica.

Singh said he took up the issue with the Prime Minister of UK during their meeting.

"I also conveyed to Prime Minister Cameron our very serious concerns regarding allegations about unethical means used in securing the 2010 contract for Agusta Westland helicopters. I told him that we have sought an explanation from the company by February 22 to examine if the contractual provisions on unethical practices and the Integrity Pact have been violated," said the Indian PM.

"I have sought full assistance from the U.K. in this case. Prime Minister Cameron has assured me of the cooperation of his Government in the investigations," he said.

Singh said he has stressed on the need for a visa regime that will facilitate greater movement of people between the two countries.

"Education and science and technology are special areas of India-UK cooperation. I have impressed upon PM Cameron the need for a visa regime that facilitates greater movement of people between our two countries so that this cooperation can be further energized," said Singh.

He further said: "I thanked Prime Minister Cameron for the UK's support for India's full membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other multilateral export control regimes. We have also decided to commence negotiations on a bilateral Civil Nuclear Agreement."

Singh said he had a very candid and productive discussions on regional and global issues and it included perspectives on the security and political transition in Afghanistan.

"Prime Minister Cameron and I also had very candid and productive discussions on regional and global issues. We shared our perspectives on the security and political transition in Afghanistan," he said.

"I conveyed India's enduring commitment to assist Afghanistan through the transition and beyond, by supporting its economic growth and regional economic integration and helping develop its capacity for governance, development and security in accordance with our strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan," said Singh.

"We also had productive discussions on other issues in our immediate neighbourhood, including Iran and West Asia. We agreed to further intensify our cooperation in combating terrorism. We have also increased our engagement on cyber security," he said.

With India having a difficult relationship with Pakistan in the neighbourhood and targetted by terrorists from the region, the country is worried over the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan scheduled in December 2014.

Singh said: "Prime Minister Cameron and I agreed that in keeping with our strategic relationship, it is important for our two sides to consult closely and remain sensitive to each other's interests."

"Prime Minister Cameron's visit is another milestone in our bilateral relations. It has been a pleasure working with him and I look forward to continuing our mutual partnership,"he said.