New Delhi: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown arrived in India on Sunday from China, looking for movement from New Delhi on tackling climate change while also building on strong trade and investment links. Brown’s first visit to New Delhi since taking office last June was expected to follow the themes seen in Beijing and Shanghai, where he said Sino-British relations had risen to new levels across the board.
Relations between India and the former colonial power are “at their healthiest for a very long time,” Britain’s foreign office said on its website. Brown was later to exchange notes with his counterpart Manmohan Singh, who was in China himself less than a week ago. During that visit, India and China set a bilateral trade target of $60 billion (Rs2.35 trillion) by 2010.
The British Prime Minister is aware that the rise of China and India—the world’s two most populous nations—is shifting the global economic balance and has said it is vital for countries to work with them to address key international issues.
Focus on Asia: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Brown was to deliver a keynote speech on Monday stressing the need to reform world institutions such as the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund to reflect 21st century realities, British officials said.
On climate change, Brown had said he wanted to use the four-day Asian tour to secure China and India’s backing for a new deal to cut global warming after the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012. But as developing economies, New Delhi and Beijing are loath to sign up to internationally agreed binding targets on emissions cuts and instead want more help on creating new, cleaner energy technology.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna indicated ahead of the visit that Brown would do well not to push too hard on a commitment to binding cuts, saying carbon emissions in India were “far lower” than in many other countries.
Brown was expected to sign a new deal on higher education and launch a British Council-run scheme to train 750,000 more English teachers in India over the next five years.
On the geopolitical front, British officials in New Delhi said there would be an exchange of views on counter-terrorism, Pakistan, Nepal and military-run Myanmar, where London is looking for a speedier transition to democracy.
Proposed changes to Britain’s immigration policy could also feature on the agenda.