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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2005, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
Blair presses trade with India
Cherie and Tony Blair at the Gandhi memorial in Delhi
Tony Blair visited the Gandhi memorial in Delhi
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is leading an EU team in trade talks with India on the second leg of his trip to Asia.

A large group of British business leaders has accompanied Mr Blair on his visit to India.

Britain and Europe are keen to play a part in India's economic expansion which is predicted to be a strong 7% this year.

Mr Blair flew to Delhi from China, where he discussed trade and raised issues of human rights and democracy.

Ahead of the talks, Mr Blair and his wife Cherie laid a wreath at the memorial to Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

"The principles in which he lived his life will endure forever; namely that the ultimate salvation for humanity comes when people of all colours, race, nations and religions learn to live in peace and harmony with each other," he wrote in the visitors' book.

There is heavy security for Mr Blair's visit. The roads outside his hotel and the summit venue have been sealed and armed police officers deployed.

Mutual benefits

The talks come as latest figures show Indian exports to the EU growing by 20% a year, with imports rising 15%.

The EU buys 25% of Indian exports, although it still has a small trade surplus with India.

India is increasingly looked upon by the EU as an equal partner, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Delhi.

Where once Indian leaders sought a helping hand, now the focus is on how closer economic cooperation can deliver mutual benefits.

Mr Blair is meeting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday in his role as current president of the EU, and again on Thursday for separate bilateral India-Britain talks.

Britain is the third-largest investor in India, and the two countries do about $10bn (5.5bn) worth of business a year.

Mr Singh is expected to press Mr Blair over subsidies paid to European farmers, which it is felt prevent Indian farm exporters gaining access to European markets.

Meanwhile the British leader is likely to raise the issue of global warming, and what developing countries like India can do to help tackle it.

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