Common ground takes India, Britain ties to new level (Roundup)

July 30th, 2010 - 12:29 am ICT by IANS  

David Cameron New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Joining hands against terror sourced in Pakistan, India and Britain Thursday resolved to intensify their counter-terror cooperation and ramp up economic and cultural ties to a “special” level.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who wrapped up his two-day maiden visit to India, sought to transform the long-standing relationship by showering praise on India’s rising global stature and lauding his Indian counterpart Manmohahn Singh for his “wise and thoughtful leadership”.

The two countries took a slew of initiatives to double bilateral trade to $24 billion by 2015 as they launched a new CEOs forum, to be co-chaired by chairman, Tata group, Ratan Tata and head of Standard Chartered Bank, Peter Sands.

They also agreed to establish an India-UK Infrastructure Group and decided to ease civil nuclear trade between the two countries.

Cameron arrived in India Tuesday night with the largest ever business delegation accompanying a British prime minister on an overseas visit. On the cultural front, the two sides launched a new phase of the successful UK-India Education and Research Initiative for 2011-2015 and signed their first-ever cultural agreement.

But it was on countering terror the two sides showed a movement forward as a new congruence of perspectives emerged on dealing with the militancy-ridden Pakistan-Afghanistan region.

“They agreed on the importance of achieving stability in Afghanistan, so that it did not again become a source of security threats to the region and the world,” said a joint statement entitled ‘India and the UK: An Enhanced Partnership for the Future’.

“There was agreement between us that today terrorism constitutes the single biggest threat to the region and to open and pluralistic societies like ours. We have agreed to further intensify our cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism,” said Manmohan Singh.

Breaking away from the Labour government’s position on issues relating to Pakistan, Cameron struck the right chord in India by telling Islamabad bluntly that it needed to do more to eliminate terror emanating from its territory that poses a threat equally to New Delhi, London and Kabul.

Stressing that he has no option but to speak frankly, Cameron backed India’s position asking Pakistan to eliminate terrorism from the region and underlined that it needed to do more to crackdown and eliminate terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operating from its territory.

“It is not acceptable that there should be within Pakistan existence of terror groups that cause terrorism not just within Pakistan, but also in other places in the world,” Cameron said at a joint press conference with Manmohan Singh.

Cameron will go home with a major defence deal, after British aerospace major BAE Systems Wednesday inked an $1 billion agreement with state-run Indian defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for the licensed production of 57 additional Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs).

The culture agreement will lead to more academic exchanges, exhibitions and collaborations between museums, libraries of both countries.

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