Blair on terrorism, trade talks with India

British businessmen courted their counterparts in the emerging economic powerhouse of India on Thursday as Prime Minister Tony Blair set off for talks on terrorism and trade with Indian leaders at a fabled lake palace.

Britain is the third largest investor in India but business executives say the much can be done to deepen the trade relationship.

British beermakers, top representatives from mobile phone companies, banks and airlines accompanied Blair at a UK-India summit in New Delhi on the last day of a whistle-stop Asian tour that also took in China.

Blair, who as holder of the EU's rotating presidency chaired an EU-India summit on Wednesday, has called on India to further open up its markets to foreign goods, banks and service providers.

But he has also sent a stern message to protectionist leaders in Europe who think trade barriers can spare them from competition from India.

"If Europe does not open up, if it thinks its future lies in protectionism, then it will lose in the end," Blair told reporters late on Wednesday.

India's economy, the third largest in Asia, is set to grow at a robust 7 percent in the fiscal year ending March 2006, reports Reuters.

According to Daily Times the two sides also signed a two-page political declaration deciding to work towards blocking access to terrorist financing and cooperate against money laundering. The declaration said the two sides would work closely to strengthen UN peacekeeping missions by exchanging best practices and engaging in joint training.

The declaration said India and the EU would establish a security dialogue on global and regional security issues, disarmament and non-proliferation. Both sides agreed to work together on training military and civilian components of peacekeeping missions, including police. They agreed to establish contacts between Indian and EU counter-terrorism coordinators.

The action plan also provides for dialogue on migration and consular issues, educational cooperation through facilitation of academic exchanges and civil society dialogue.

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