UK PM May arrives in India on 3-day visit

New Delhi: British Prime Minister Theresa May flew in here yesterday on a three-day visit aimed at enhancing Indo-UK ties in the key areas of trade, investment, defence and security.

On her first bilateral trip outside Europe since taking office in July in the aftermath of Britain voting to exit the European Union, May will hold talks with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi tomorrow. She will also inaugurate jointly with him the India-UK Tech Summit.

Before leaving London, she described India as the UK’s “most important and closest” friend and a leading power in the world, adding “We will be promoting the best of Britain, sending out the message that we are open for business, and making the most of the opportunities offered by Brexit as the world’s foremost champion of free trade”.

“I will be using this visit to reaffirm the importance of the strategic partnership we already have, which delivers huge benefits for both our countries, and to work with Prime Minister Modi to agree concrete steps to realise our shared vision of going even further in our cooperation across trade, investment, defence and security,” she added.

May, who is accompanied by senior British ministers and a big trade delegation, will also travel to Bengaluru on Tuesday where she will attend some business events and will meet the Karnataka Chief Minister.

May, 60, is accompanied by a business delegation drawn from regions across the UK, including Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and Trade Minister Greg Hands.

The November 6-8 visit comes in the backdrop of the historic June referendum favouring Brexit and as part of the new May-led government to step up engagement with countries outside the 28-nation European Union.

“She will deliver on her ambitious vision for Britain after Brexit, forging a new global role for the UK beyond the continent of Europe. She will also deliver on her pledge for an economy that works for all, by introducing new and emerging enterprises, as well as more established players, to the key Indian market,” an official statement in London said.

According to the statement, a number of commercial deals are expected to be signed during the visit, creating and securing jobs at home and demonstrating market confidence in the strength of the British economy.

She will meet with Modi tomorrow to discuss developing the bilateral strategic partnership, building on the deep links and existing co-operation. Alongside Modi, she will inaugurate the India-UK TECH Summit, South Asia’s largest technology conference.