UK Premier David Cameron met his Indian counterpart Dr. Manmohan Singh during his visit to Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka. Cameron tweeted that the two leaders had made “extraordinary progress” on trade and investment since his first visit in 2010. It is the prime minister’s third visit to the country since taking up office. Ahead of the meeting, Cameron had said he aimed to “cement the position of Britain as India’s partner of choice”. He said that the UK is starting to “reap the benefits” of his push to secure a healthy trade relationship with India, and sought to reassure Indian nationals about his drive to cut immigration to the UK. He took pains to counter the “myth” that the immigration crackdown was “freezing out” new arrivals from the sub-continent, but he did accept that there was a “challenge” to persuade people that the UK remains “open for business”.
Cameron’s party includes Conservative MP Priti Patel, whom he has appointed “Indian Diaspora Champion” with a mandate to improve the government’s links with British Indians. He said the UK had “failed to make the most of what they have to offer” and he wanted them to “play a vital role in forging this strong relationship”. Cameron unveiled a string of potential business deals between Indian firms and British companies during his visit, as well as plans for a British business centre in Mumbai to match those in Delhi and Bangalore. But the prime minister risked upsetting his Liberal Democrat partners in government when he said, “I think what’s bad about it is that sometimes you have to make some compromises that are not necessarily in the long-term interests of one’s country.” Cameron did not give any examples of such decisions taken by the present administration, but said the British public shared his desire for “more decisive” government.