Prime Minister Narendra Modi Starts His UK Visit Today

12/11/2015 7:59 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 14: British Prime minister David Cameron (left) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral meeting at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibitions Centre (BCEC) on November 14, 2014 in Brisbane Australia. World leaders have gathered in Brisbane for the annual G20 Summit and are expected to discuss economic growth, free trade and climate change as well as pressing issues including the situation in Ukraine and the Ebola crisis. (Photo by Lukas Coch-Pool/Getty Images)

LONDON/NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday left for a a three-day visit to Britain which will start with talks with his British counterpart David Cameron who has described the trip as "extraordinary".

"Leaving for UK. I am hopeful this visit will strengthen economic ties between India and UK & bring more investment to India," he tweeted before boarding the plane.

"I am excited by this visit. I am excited by what Prime Minister Modi is doing in India and I'm excited about the partnership that we can build together," Cameron said.

'Extraordinary visit'

Describing Modi's visit as "extraordinary", Cameron said it was not simply about celebrating the economic ties but "actually building a thoroughly modern partnership between our two great countries".

Modi arrives here this afternoon and after talks with Cameron at 10 Downing Street he will address a joint press conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

A brief stop to pay tributes at the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament Square will be followed by speeches at the Houses of Parliament and then at the Guildhall in the financial hub of London.

His talks with Cameron will carry on at the British Prime Minister's country residence of Chequers in Buckinghamshire, where he is being hosted overnight.

On Friday, Modi returns to London for a CEOs' round-table which is likely to include representatives from major British companies like Rolls-Royce and Vodafone.

The pomp and ceremony attached to the visit is expected to include a special tricolour flypast by the Red Arrows Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerobatic Team over Buckingham Palace before the Prime Minister sits down for lunch with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday afternoon before making his way to Wembley Stadium in north London for the mega Diaspora reception.

He leaves for Ankara to attend the G20 summit on Saturday after inaugurating a new statue of 12th century philosopher Basaveshwara as well as a new Ambedkar memorial in London.

A visit to the Tata Motors owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) factory in Solihull, in the West Midlands region of England, will be the last item on his UK agenda.

"My visit to UK is the first Prime Ministerial visit in almost a decade. I have had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister David Cameron at various international forums and our meetings have been productive. Prime Minister Cameron is a good friend of India's, and we in India have had the privilege of welcoming him thrice during his first term as Prime Minister," Modi wrote in a Facebook post ahead of the visit.

Day of protests

Meanwhile, a number of groups have announced a "day of protest" tomorrow, coinciding with Modis visit.

The "Modi Not Welcome" campaign by the Awaaz Network as well as a protest organised by CasteWatchUK will assemble outside Downing Street and then move on to Parliament Square.

Another group of protesters are expected to assemble outside Wembley Stadium, demanding that the Indian government lift the ban on the documentary 'India's Daughter' by British filmmaker Leslie Udwin.

"An appropriate policing plan is in place. We are in dialogue with various protest groups to facilitate their requests. No restrictions have been placed on the route," a Metropolitan Police statement said.

Cameron's Diwali greetings

Describing Diwali as a "great moment" in Britain's national calendar, Cameron yesterday greeted the Indian diaspora and lauded the community for their "incredible" contribution to the UK.

In his "Shubh Diwali!" message, Cameron also praised the active role played by the Indian diaspora in British life after he hosted his annual Diwali reception at 10 Downing Street this afternoon.

"To everyone celebrating, let me wish you a happy and peaceful Diwali and a prosperous New Year," he said.

"Families are coming together, lights are being strung up, the food is going in the oven - Diwali is upon us once again. As the celebrations get underway, from London to Leicester, Glasgow to Gwent, Bristol to Birmingham, I want to send out my very best wishes to everyone celebrating the Festival of Lights," Cameron said in his Diwali message.

Describing Diwali as a "a great moment in our national calendar and an opportunity to shine a light on the communities who do so much to make Britain great", Cameron said, "in every walk of life, in every corner of our country you can see the immense contribution of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists."

"Whether it is treating patients in our National Health Service (NHS), teaching children in our schools, building the businesses that boost our economy, keeping our streets safe in the police and armed forces - all the while helping to make Britain what we are so proud to be: the greatest multi-racial democracy on earth," he said.

"Day in day out, these communities put into practice the very best of British values like generosity, responsibility, enterprise, family. Nowhere are those values more evident than in people's religious beliefs," Cameron said.

"I think of the people of Neasden Mandir or those at Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and Warwick, demonstrating every day the devotion and dedication they derive from their faith by helping others. I want to thank all of them for their incredible contribution to Britain. We are better and stronger for it," he added.

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