Monday, 26 October 2009

Indian Prez in UK for Queen's Baton Relay

Indian President Pratibha Patil arrived in Britain on Monday for a state visit during which she will join Queen Elizabeth II to launch the baton relay for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Patil touched down to a red carpet reception at London's Heathrow airport where she was greeted by dignitaries including the head of the capital's Metropolitan Police, Paul Stephenson.

During her visit, Patil will on Tuesday visit the queen's Windsor Castle residence outside London for a ceremonial welcome and state banquet, then hold talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the president will attend the launch of the Commonwealth Games baton relay at Buckingham Palace in London. The relay will travel through 70 countries and reach the Indian capital when the games open on October 3.

Patil is the first Indian head of state to visit Britain for almost 20 years.

Improving trade links and boosting British investment in India will be high on the agenda for the visit, Indian officials said.

"Apart from the growing trade and economic relations, India and Britain cooperate well in a number of areas including education, research, science and technology," foreign secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters last week.

Patil, the first Indian woman to be elected to the ceremonial role, will leave on Thursday and visit Cyprus before returning home on October 31.


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