India and the UK on Thursday signed deals worth 9-billion pound as they inked a civil nuclear pact and decided to collaborate in defence and cyber security besides launching a railway rupee bond in London market.
The decisions were announced during a joint press interaction by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron here after their 90-minute wide- ranging talks at 10 Downing Street.
Modi, who flew into the British capital on his much- anticipated three-day visit, was accorded a guard of honour by the 48-member F Company Scots guard accompanied by the regimental band of Irish guards, amid noisy protests by hundreds on the growing intolerance in India.
Cameron described the Indo-UK relations as a “new dynamic modern partnership” and reiterated his country’s support for India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
“During this visit British and Indian companies are announcing new collaborations together worth 9 billion pounds,” he told reporters.
“We want to become the number one partners to finance the immense economic vision Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and make London the centre for off-shore rupee trading with the launch of 1-billionÂ worth of bonds including the first government-backedÂ rupee denominated bond,” Cameron added.
“We want to forge a more ambitious, modern partnership,” he added, noting that India has more investments in Britain than in the rest of the European Union combined.
On his part, Modi highlighted plans for India to use London as a financial base for fundraising.
“We are going to use the London market for fundraising even more and I am happy to announced that we are set to launch a railway rupee bond in London. It is appropriate as the journey of Indian Railways started in the UK,” Modi said.
“The conclusion of the civil nuclear agreement is a symbol of our mutual trust and our resolve to combat climate change. The agreement for cooperation in India’s Global Centre for Clean Energy Partnerships will strengthen safety and security in the global nuclear industry,” he added.
Earlier, Cameron came out from his office-cum residence 10 Downing Street to receive Modi before the two leaders headed to the world’s most famous political office for talks.
The UK ranks 18th in the list of India’s top 25 trading partners and two-way trade in 2014-15 stood at USD 14.34 billion. The UK is the third largest inward investor in India, after Mauritius and Singapore, with a cumulative equity investment of USD 22.26 billion between 2000-2015.
Modi’s talks with Cameron will carry on at the British Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers in Buckinghamshire, where he is being hosted overnight.
Prime Minister Modi said India attaches great value to defence and security cooperation with UK, including regular exercises and defence trade and collaboration.
“This cooperation will grow. I am also pleased that UK will participate in the International Fleet Review in India in February 2016. UK will also be a strong partner in India’s defence modernization plans, including our Make in India mission in defence sector,” he added.
He also announced to launch a new fast track mechanism for UK investments in India.
Modi also thanked Prime Minister Cameron for the strong British support for India’s permanent membership of the reformed UN Security Council and membership in the international export control regimes.
“Our partnership will not only create opportunities and increase the prosperity for our people, but also strengthen our two nations’ capabilities to advance our many shared interests and address our challenges. These include peace and stability in Asia, especially in South Asia and West Asia; maritime security; cyber security; and, of course, terrorism and extremism,” the prime minister said.
The UK ranks first among the G20 and India undertook 122 FDI projects in the UK in 2014-15. The UK attracts more Indian investment than the rest of the European Union put together.
Indian businesses in the UK employ around 110,000 people, 65,000 of whom work for the Tata Group.
Around 300 protesters gathered outside Downing Street before moving down to Parliament Square to mark a “day of protest” on Thursday, coinciding with Modi’s visit.
The ‘Modi Not Welcome’ campaign by the Awaaz Network and CasteWatchUK were joined by British Sikh and Nepalese groups as they chanted slogans of “Back Off Modi” and “Hurrah for Bihar” and waved placards like “Your action is inhuman against international law” and “Remove illegal blockade in Nepal”.
“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.
Scotland Yard had cordoned off Whitehall, the political heart of London which includes Downing Street and other key UK government offices as part of the security arrangements for the visit.
Earlier, over 200 prominent authors including Salman Rushdie had asked Cameron to raise the issue of “rising climate of fear” and “growing intolerance” in India with Modi, in second letter from the PEN International within a month.
Booker Prize winner Rushdie, recent Booker prize shortlisted British-Indian author Neel Mukherjee and other well-known names like Ian McEwan and Hari Kunzru are among the signatories of the open letter to Cameron that seeks to ensure “freedom of speech is safeguarded” in India.
Around 46 MPs, including leader of the opposition Labour party Jeremy Corbyn, have also signed a parliamentary motion asking Cameron to raise human rights issues with the Indian government.