British PM in India warns Pakistan over 'export of terror'

28th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron kicked off a trade-focused visit to India on Wednesday with a warning to neighbouring Pakistan against promoting the "export of terror."

Speaking to reporters after a speech pitching for investment and open trade with India to boost Britain's fragile post-recession recovery, Cameron turned to the sensitive subject of India's cross-border rival.

"We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country (Pakistan) is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world," he said.

The comments will be welcomed in India which has long accused Pakistan of harbouring and abetting extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba which New Delhi blames for attacks like the murderous 2008 assault by militant gunmen on Mumbai.

Cameron's remarks came days after the leak of secret US military documents that detailed links between Pakistan's intelligence services and Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

"We should be very, very clear with Pakistan that we want to see a strong, stable and democratic Pakistan," Cameron said.

"It should be a relationship based on a very clear message: that it is not right to have any relationship with groups that are promoting terror," he added.

In a trip seen as a test of Cameron's new focus on business in Britain's foreign policy, manufacturing groups BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce used the first day to unveil two defence deals with India worth a combined one billion dollars.

"I want this to be a relationship which drives economic growth upwards and drives our unemployment figures downwards," Cameron said in his speech in the Indian IT hub of Bangalore.

"This is a trade mission, yes, but I prefer to see it as my jobs mission."

Cameron arrived in India late Tuesday at the head of the largest British delegation to travel to the former jewel in its colonial crown in recent memory.

Packed with a bevy of top ministers and a small army of business leaders, it has been tagged as a mould-breaking mission to redefine what Cameron's government sees as a long-neglected relationship with one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

In Bangalore, Cameron visited the country's second-largest software exporter Infosys and the state-run defence giant Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

In the first of a series of expected deals, BAE Systems said it had finalised the sale of 57 Hawk trainer jets to India -- to be built by HAL under licence -- in a deal worth 500 million pounds (779 million dollars).

Rolls Royce will provide the engines for the aircraft for another 200 million pounds.

India had ordered 66 of the Hawk jets in 2004 to train pilots for flying supersonic combat missions.

Cameron highlighted the recent investment in Britain made by Indian-run companies such as the car maker Tata and steel group Arcelor Mittal, but also pushed India to open up its tightly regulated domestic market.

"We want you to reduce the barriers to foreign investment in banking, insurance, defence manufacturing and legal services -- and reap the benefits," he said, adding that a new global free-trade deal was vital.

Since taking power in May, Cameron has said he wants British foreign policy to focus more on business in a bid to boost the economy as it emerges from recession facing deep budget cuts to combat record state debt.

Apart from a trip to war-torn Afghanistan last month, the visit is Cameron's first major foray to Asia. The choice reflects India's growing regional clout and its emergence as an investment destination to rival neighbouring China.

Bilateral trade between India and Britain was worth 11.5 billion pounds (13.7 billion euros, 17.7 billion dollars) last year.

In further comments likely to please his hosts, Cameron also backed New Delhi's bid for a seat in the UN Security Council and heaped praise on India's "wonderful history of democratic secularism."

© 2010 AFP

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