London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today arrived at 10 Downing Street for a breakfast meeting with his British counterpart Theresa May during which the two leaders discussed wide range of issues of mutual interest, including cross-border terrorism, visas and immigration.
PM Modi was greeted with the customary handshake by May.
“Very welcome to London, Prime Minister,” May said as she greeted PM Modi, who arrived in a Tata Motors’ Range Rover.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the return of illegal immigrants, which had expired in 2014, will be renewed to take into account biometric and other developments in the field, along with a range of nearly a dozen MoUs across different sectors.
“A slew of agreements will be signed between India and the UK during the bilateral leg of the visit today. This is a relationship that cuts across all sectors and has reached a very mature level. The prime minister’s visit is about what more we can do to build on that,” a senior Indian official said.
A “flash mob” of sari-clad women from Indian Ladies in UK, accompanied by dhols, had gathered outside Downing Street to welcome the Indian PM with banners such as “In India, Peace is always in Fashion”.PM Modi had landed in Britain from Stockholm overnight for bilateral engagements as well as multilateral discussions as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting or CHOGM.
He was received at the airport by UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who said he was “excited” that India-UK bilateral trade is growing at 15 per cent a year and the visit will help build on “huge economic advantages”. Both leaders held a late night meeting at Heathrow airport.
“A real pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UK. Lots to discuss on UK-India bilateral issues – tech collaboration, trade, healthcare opportunities and more,” Johnson said.
“Another chapter in modern partnership bound by strong historical ties,” added the ministry of external affairs or MEA.
PM Modi is set for a packed day of official engagements today.
After his meeting with the British PM, he arrives at the Science Museum in London to explore the ‘5000 Years of Science and Innovation’ exhibition and interact with Indian-origin and other scientists and innovators based in the UK.
The event, hosted by Prince Charles, will include the launch of a new Ayurvedic Centre of Excellence, aimed at creating a first-of-its-kind global network for evidence-based research on yoga and Ayurveda.
A brief stop to garland the Basaveshwara statue on the banks of the river Thames, which PM Modi had inaugurated during his last visit to the UK in 2015, will be followed by his second meeting with Theresa May at an event hosted by the British prime minister at the Francis Crick Institute.
Following an interaction with Indian-origin scientists working on cancer research, malaria and other tropical diseases, both leaders will initiate the India-UK CEOs Forum. An India-UK Tech Alliance is also expected to be among the announcements during the day.
PM Modi is scheduled for a private audience with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace before the Bharat Ki Baat, Sabke Saath diaspora event, to be telecast live from the iconic Central Hall Westminster in London.
The event, billed as the centrepiece of the “Living Bridge” theme of the India-UK bilateral visit, will involve the PM addressing questions from across the world which have already been received via social media.
An estimated 1,700 people, mostly from the Indian diaspora in the UK, successful in a ballot of free online registrations will attend the event organised by the Europe India Forum.
“It will be a no-holds-barred interaction with Prime Minister Modi, in a manner and format never witnessed before,” said Vijay Chauthaiwale, in charge of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Foreign Affairs Department.
At the end of the live telecast, PM Modi will join Heads of Government from 52 other Commonwealth countries at a dinner hosted by May as a formal welcome to the CHOGM.
According to official estimates, India-UK bilateral trade stands at USD 13 billion, with the UK among the largest G20 investors into India. PM Modi’s UK visit this week will have a particular focus on the India-UK technological partnership as well as an enhanced role in the Commonwealth.
A series of demonstrations, including a silent protest to condemn the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district, have been planned by various groups at Parliament Square here his visit.