Modi visits UK: Indian leader set to seal 'billions of pounds' of business deals with Britain

Narendra Modi will become the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Britain in almost a decade on Thursday, with both sides hoping to seal a number of business deals worth "billions of pounds" during his stay.

David Cameron, who will meet with Mr Modi in London and at Chequers for comprehensive talks, has described the visit as an "historic opportunity" to further deepen already close business ties between the two nations.

Writing on Facebook before his visit, India's leader said his aim was further improving relations with a "traditional friend" - adding that he also wanted to increase cooperation on issues of defence and security.

The three-day trip will include a meeting with the Queen and a sensational rally at Wembley Stadium on Friday, where 60,000 mostly British-Indian ticket-holders will be present to give the charismatic leader a rock star welcome.

Lucrative business deals

Cameron and Modi are both keen to improve UK-Indian business relations.

Downing Street has said it wants to "revitalise" its relationship with India - one of the world's fastest-growing economies - and expects a number of big business deals will be sealed during Mr Modi's visit.

Among the agreements expected to be announced are:

  • A partnership to create three "smart cities" in India using UK expertise and offering opportunities to British companies

  • Plans for Britain to become the centre of offshore Rupee bonds - meaning Indian companies can issue debt denonimated in their own country to London

  • Britain to "lend expertise" to Indian efforts to gain private sector investment in infrastructure

Britain is already the largest investor in India out of the G20 nations, while India invests more in the UK than it does in the rest of the EU combined.

Mr Modi will also hold a roundtable discussion with business chiefs during the trip, with the CBI hailing him as a "business-friendly" leader who has "won many plaudits among industry leaders here".

Protests over 2002 massacre

At least 1,000 were killed in rioting in the Indian state of Gujurat in 2002. Credit: Reuters

While Mr Modi will receive a warm welcome from the government and business leaders, he is also set to face a number of protests throughout his time in the UK.

The nationalist Hindu leader has faced anger over an alleged failures to quell riots in Gujurat 2002, during which hundreds of Muslims were killed.

Despite facing allegations that he deliberately allowed the killings, Mr Modi, who was chief minister of the state at the time, denies any wrongdoing and has resisted pressure ever since to apologise for the killings.

Ahead of the visit, some British Indians projected the words "Modi not welcome" on to the side of the Houses of Parliament in protest at the visit.

The Awaaz Network, which was behind the protest, has also arranged a demonstration at midday outside as Mr Modi address both houses in the building.

Indeed, even the British government has not always been friendly to Mr Modi - refusing to deal with him for 10 years over his failure to apologise for the anti-Muslim massacre.

He was also denied visas to travel to the United States and the EU, but appears to have returned to favour since his election last year.