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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2005, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Blair hails India 'turning point'
Jose Manuel Barroso, Tony Blair and Manmohan Singh
Blair wants an "equal partnership" with India
Tony Blair has hailed an EU trade and security agreement with India as a long overdue "turning point" in relations between the two economic powers.

The "action plan" will point the way to greater co-operation between the EU and India, Mr Blair said.

His words came as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled a 1.2bn India Airlines order for 43 Airbus jets.

Mr Blair, who currently holds the EU presidency, is in India on the second leg of a trip to Asia.

'Unique document'

Speaking at a press conference, Mr Singh said: "We had extremely good and productive discussions.

The rest of the world has got to enter into the right and equal partnership with India for mutual benefit
Tony Blair

"The most important outcome has been the adoption of a joint action plan... which provides the framework, a road map for identifying pathways for future co-operation."

He said the plan was a "unique document" which would enhance relations between "the world's two largest democracies".

Mr Blair said the plan, which covers trade, security, climate change, research and development and other issues, sets relations between the EU and India at "a new, higher and more intensive level". He added: "It is in my opinion long overdue... It sets a framework for more action on a whole range of issues... such as science and technology."

And he hoped it would be translated into action and be more than just "rhetoric".

Partnership

Progress could not be made on the major issues facing the world, such as climate change, trade and terrorism, without the "active participation and engagement" of India, he said.

India was not just emerging economically but politically, added Mr Blair, and "the rest of the world has got to enter into the right and equal partnership with India for mutual benefit, and that's what's happening."

The $2.2bn (1.8bn euro) Airbus deal was a "welcome sign of those developing relations", Mr Blair added.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso hailed the talks in New Delhi as a "very successful" summit.

Satellite deal

The prime minister also saw a deal signed to involve India in the satellite navigation system called Galileo, which is a competitor to the United States' global positioning system.

The agreement was signed by G Madavan Nair, chief scientist of the Indian Space Research Organisation, and the EU's representative to India Francisco da Camara Gomes.

The system is intended to be working by 2008. It should be able to track everything from aircraft to cars through 30 satellites.

China is also involved in developing the system.

Commenting on Wednesday's talks, BBC correspondent Roland Buerk said: "Just a decade or so ago at a summit like this, Indian leaders would have been asking Europe for a helping hand.

"But now India is emerging as an economic force with the fastest growth of any democratic nation."

Gandhi tribute

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.

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.



SEE ALSO:
Airbus wins $2.2bn Indian order
07 Sep 05 |  Business
Blair calls for UN terror stand
07 Sep 05 |  UK Politics
Blair presses for China democracy
06 Sep 05 |  UK Politics
EU 'will back' China textile deal
06 Sep 05 |  Business
Chinese get a taste of Blairism
05 Sep 05 |  UK Politics


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