London: The UK is in "active" discussions with India on opening five new trade offices across the country, according to a top British official in London. "We are in active discussions with the Indian government to open five new trade offices across India. It is a large country and we want to understand all of it," UK's Foreign Office Minister in-charge of India, Hugo Swire, said.
"We have already opened a new Deputy High Commission in Hyderabad and another is to follow in Chandigarh," he said while addressing the 5th IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) - Indian Ministry of External Affairs Dialogue in London on Thursday evening.
"And as the Foreign Secretary announced at the new Kings College India Institute - which should itself contribute to Britain's understanding of India - we are forming a new cadre of Foreign Office staff with Indian expertise," he said.
Referring to bilateral trade, the British official said, "We are well on track to achieving our target of doubling trade by 2015, and that deeper collaboration in areas such as science, education and technology is improving the lives of people in both our countries."
"We have long supported India's candidacy for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and we also support Indian membership of the international export control regimes. We are delighted that decision making on global governance has expanded to a G20 level and (prime minister) David Cameron has publicly proclaimed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 'great intellectual leadership in economic matters' in that forum."
Swire said "a strategic relationship in the 21st Century cannot focus solely on threats from conflict and terrorism. It must also encompass questions of energy security, climate security, food and water security and global trade policies.
We both desire long term global growth and should work not only to increase trade between our two countries but to create the conditions in the global economy for mutual prosperity." At the outset, Swire noted "at a social level the links that the UK shares with India are tremendously deep and important. With around one and a half million people, the Indian diaspora in the UK is bigger than any other minority group.
"And many have become British national cultural treasures: Farrokh Bulsara whose family came from Bulsar in Southern Gujarat grew up to become one of the greatest rock Stars of all time as Freddie Mercury, Krishna Pandit Bhanji went on to win Oscars, Golden Globes and Baftas as Sir Ben Kingsley.
"Nasser Hussain, born in Madras, was one of England's best Test Cricket Captains, and Monty Panesar one of its best spin bowlers. Though unfortunately Samit Patel and Ravi Bopara were unable to prevent our unceremonious departure from the World Twenty20 this week.