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Sunday, 2 June, 2002, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
'No plans' to airlift Britons from India
Britons prepare to fly out of India
Some British ex patriates have chosen to leave
Reports that British Airways is on standby to carry out an emergency airlift of UK citizens from India, have been denied by the Foreign Office.

Claims that the airline is planning to send a fleet of aircraft to the region if relations worsen between India and Pakistan, are made in Sunday's Observer newspaper.

However, the Foreign Office says it has not put the airline on standby, but it is monitoring the situation.

The reports come as several multi-national firms in India revealed that British employees were preparing to fly home.


There is no doubt that the warning put out by the Foreign Office has caused a stir in the British population her

Adam Mynott, BBC South Asia correspondent
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has advised British nationals to leave both India and Pakistan as the build-up of military forces continues on both sides of the border in Kashmir.

But he said this was as "a precautionary measure".

More British citizens are expected to arrive home from India and Pakistan early on Sunday morning, in response to the government's advice.

British Airways said it had not seen any rush to buy tickets out of the sub-continent, and it was operating services as normal, but it had a contingency plan, should the situation deteriorate.

However, it confirmed it had been in close contact with the Foreign Office and would do what it could to help if asked.

The Foreign Office says it has contingency plans to evacuate Britons from more than 100 countries, including India: in cases of natural disaster or a sudden upsurge in political instability.

Trade links

Rolls-Royce, Unilever and GB, formerly British Gas, said their non-essential British workers were arranging to leave and they were monitoring the situation in case they needed to advise others to go.

Shell and BP refused to reveal whether their workers were leaving, but said they were also monitoring the situation.

Britain and India have strong trade links, worth 5bn a year and the UK is India's second largest trading partner after the US.

Up to 20,000 British expatriates live in India, with about 1,000 Britons believed to be holidaying in the region.

Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf has played down the threat of a nuclear war, saying he did not expect either side to fire its nuclear missiles.

On Saturday night, hundreds of Britons were preparing to leave India.

They included parents and children of some staff at the British High Commission in Delhi.

BBC South Asia correspondent Adam Mynott said they are the first of 150 people advised to go.

Tourists' warning

Speaking from Delhi he said: "There is not a mass exodus.

"Many of the 20,000 or so British people who live in India may feel that they live far enough away from the trouble spot to be at any risk.

"But there is no doubt that the warning put out by the Foreign Office has caused a stir in the British population here."

Taj Mahal
Tourists told to avoid India
He added "life seemed to be going on as normal" with no sense that the country is preparing for war.

British diplomats remain in both countries

The Foreign Office has warned UK tourists to avoid all travel to India and Pakistan due to the "increased risk of conflict".

This is the first time tourists have been told to avoid India as a whole, rather than just the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Straw said his own judgement was taken bearing in mind the safety of the UK community and following "very anxious discussions" with government, paralleled in Washington, he said.

Earlier in the week the UK Government had said the situation was dangerous but that war was not inevitable between India and Pakistan.

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See also:

01 Jun 02 | UK Politics
31 May 02 | UK Politics
22 May 02 | South Asia
31 May 02 | South Asia
26 Mar 02 | UK Politics
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