Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held his first meeting with British Premier David Cameron who described relations with India as top priority of the UK's foreign policy and invited the Indian leader to Britain.
The bilateral meeting took place shortly after Modi arrived on a five-day visit at Brisbane in Australia to attend the G20 Summit. At their meeting, Cameron told Modi that "relations with India are at the top of the priorities of the UK's foreign policy." The British Premier also invited Modi to visit the UK to which the Indian Prime Minister said he would do so at the earliest, the ministry of external affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
Modi told Cameron that his vision was "very inspiring" and the two countries can partner in any way they can. The UK Premier was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Modi following his victory in the general elections in May. Earlier, Cameron's spokesperson had said that the Brisbane meeting was set to strengthen the broad and deep relationship that UK and India have, building on a partnership of equals based on mutual respect. The Indian community in the UK is keen to have a visit by Prime Minister Modi to inaugurate Mahatma Gandhi's statue which is being raised outside the Palace of Westminster in London's Parliament Square. The statue will stand amid monuments to other statesmen, including Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.
Addressing a press conference at the end of the G20 meeting in Brisbane, Cameron said that his focus was very clear and that was delivering the long-term economic plan that was helping to turn Britain around, get people back to work, about securing prosperity for every family in Britain. “I think we’ve made some important steps forward that really help with that long-term economic plan and help with the growth and the jobs that people want in Britain. First of all, we focused on trade. It’s good that the Trade Facilitation Agreement, so long stuck in the process, is now going to go ahead. That was a breakthrough at the G20. But also we’re very focused on the trade deals that can add to British growth, to British jobs and, in particular, we’ve just had a successful meeting between the countries of the European Union on the one hand, and the United States on the other to put rocket boosters under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which we think can add some £10 billion to our side of the equation and can result in real jobs. And I think it’s important we start taking on the opponents of this deal and exposing some of the arguments against. This is good for Britain, good for jobs, good for growth and good for British families.
Second thing where we’ve made some important breakthroughs was tax issue that I put upfront and centre at the G8 that I hosted in Northern Ireland a couple of years ago. And that was making sure that that big companies pay the taxes that they owe. This cooperation between different tax authorities to have greater transparency over tax and make sure there’s greater fairness over tax, we made some real progress. There were now over 92 different countries and tax authorities properly sharing information and, as the OECD set out at this G20 meeting, the action we’ve already taken has resulted in $37 billion of extra tax being paid by big companies. And I think this was all to the good. The more we could make sure that big corporations pay their taxes properly, the less we have to tax hard working people who I want to make sure keep more of their own money to spend as they choose. So, again, the tax issue, like the trade issue, is not some arcane, distant, dry and dusty topic. It’s directly relevant to delivering growth and jobs, and the long-term economic plan in the United Kingdom. Final issue in terms of keeping our people safe was the importance of being very clear to Russia that the continued destabilisation of Ukraine was simply unacceptable. And I think there has been good unity between European countries and the United States of America. We’ve just been discussing it at the separate meeting that we would continue to maintain the sanctions against Russia, we would continue to to keep the pressure and that if Russia continues to destabilise Ukraine, further measures would follow. This was important because although some have said, of course, there’s a cost to sanctions, there would be a far greater cost of allowing a frozen conflict on the continent of Europe to be created and maintained. So, it’s right that we take this action.So, I think it’s been a good G20. I think we’ve made some progress on some things that really matter to British families, British people back at home and it had been good to be part of this work.”
Keith Vaz raises Cameron- Modi meeting in the House of Commons: On the 17th November Keith Vaz MP asked Prime Minister David Cameron about his first meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Keith Vaz said: “The summit marked the first face-to-face meeting between the Prime Minister and Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The right hon. Gentleman has said previously that trade between our two countries has barely scratched the surface of what is possible. Did he discuss specific measures for increasing trade, and did he persuade Modi to visit the UK?”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I had a very good meeting with Prime Minister Modi, who got the conference off to a good start by agreeing to lift India’s block to the Bali trade facilitation agreement, which is vital to helping drive global growth. On the British-India relationship, Britain is, I think, the second-largest inward investor in India, but the right hon. Gentleman is right that more could be done on trade. We discussed the need for the EU-India free-trade agreement to get going again and for structural reform in India to help open up her economy and lead to higher growth rates, and I am clear that Prime Minister Modi is a man with a clear vision for doing economically for his country what he succeeded in doing for Gujarat.”