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Britain, India Agree to Form 'Modern Partnership'


British Prime Minister Tony Blair has wrapped up a two-day visit to India expressing support for deepening the strong ties between the two countries.

After day-long talks with his Indian counterpart at a former palace in Rajasthan's Udaipur city, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the two countries are developing what he called a "modern partnership".

"The result of these two days is to cement the new and modern relationship between Britain and India for the early 21st century," said Tony Blair. "We are two countries that have undergone a lot of change, are continuing to undergo a lot of change, but are both confident of our future and confident of the role we can play together in shaping the modern world."

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reaffirmed his commitment to realizing what he called the "full potential" of that relationship.

The talks focused on how to expand trade and tackle terrorism. Mr. Blair says emerging economies like India should be viewed as an opportunity and not a threat. India says it needs more foreign investment and wants Britain and other European countries to end protectionist trade barriers.

A series of agreements signed between India and Britain will nearly triple commercial flights between them, and boost cooperation between their film and oil industries.

Mr. Singh said both countries have also agreed to cooperate in the area of civilian nuclear energy, giving a boost to Indian efforts to expand its nuclear energy program.

In July the Bush administration decided to resume sales of nuclear technology to India, which had been barred to New Delhi because it has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The British Prime Minister also urged the international community to strongly support efforts by Iraq and Afghanistan to become modern democracies, and deal a "decisive blow to worldwide terrorism."

"Whatever feelings people have about the original decision in respect of Afghanistan or Iraq, what you have now is a United Nations process in which all sensible people should be backing the right of those two countries to elect their own governments," the prime minister said.

On his visit to India, Mr. Blair has made a call for a strong international commitment to fight terrorism.

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