Prime Minister David Cameron met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Australia on Monday, and invited Mr Modi to visit Britain to unveil the proposed memorial to Mahatma Gandhi in London’s Parliament Square.
The meeting, the first between the two leaders, took place on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Brisbane.
Mr Cameron, who has recently spoken of his keenness to better engage with India and said that the UK and India have merely “scratched the surface” of the two countries’ trade potential, told Mr Modi that “relations with India are at the top of the priorities of the UK’s foreign policy”.
Mr Modi – the first Indian leader to visit Australia in nearly three decades – was equally effusive.
He described Mr Cameron’s vision as “very inspiring” and declared that the two nations can partner in “any way they can”, a promise that will doubtless please the UK’s business community still looking for ways to tap into the potential promised by Mr Modi’s own development-driven vision.
Mr Cameron – perhaps mindful of the fact that the Hindu nationalist Mr Modi has already visited the US and now Australia and has vacillated on whether he should visit India’s former colonial master – requested the Indian leader to visit Britain early next year for the planned unveiling of the permanent memorial to Mahatma Gandhi on London’s iconic Parliament Square.
That unveiling is tentatively scheduled for 31 January and sources in India say a visit by Mr Modi is highly unlikely, at least in the near future.
Mr Cameron was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Mr Modi following his election victory in May.
The two leaders’ meeting follows several high profile visits by senior British ministers – including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Chancellor George Osborne and former Foreign Secretary William Hague – to India.
– Image courtesy of Syed Akbaruddin