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Britain unwilling to negotiate on immigration policy with India: Cable

 Cameron’s three day visit to India begins

28thJuly 2010: The British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit to India got off to a shaky start last night, after Vince Cable made off-message comments about the coalition’s immigration policy, which had become a hot-button issue in the emerging superpower.

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Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne are leading a delegation of senior cabinet ministers and high-profile business figures to India, in a bid to boost trade with the country.

Cable, the business secretary, said the government was not willing to negotiate on plans for an immigration cap, but admitted he would prefer a more “liberal” approach.

He said that it was no great secret that in his department and he personally, all wanted to see as liberal an immigration policy as it was possible to have.

He added that they obviously had to listen to Indian concerns on the matter. Recalling past events, Cable said that he had even met Indian businessmen in the UK who expressed concerned about the immigration policy and they were not the only ones.

Cable stated that India was worried that a cap on economic migrants from outside the European Union could reduce opportunities for Indian graduates. Earlier this month, Anand Sharma, the country’s commerce minister, told Cameron he had concerns over the policy.

Meanwhile the Indian and British navies are all set to launch submarine combat war games on the western coast on Wednesday.

Cameron’s visit also came at a time when India had decided to order another 57 British Hawk AJTs (advanced jet trainers) in a project worth around Rs 9,400 crore. The new Hawks would be in addition to the 66 already contracted in the Rs 8,000-crore project finalised in March 2004.

A nine-member British Navy team headed by the commander of UK task group, Commodore James Morse, and a 11-member Indian team led by commanding officer of INS Talwar frigate, Captain M A Hampiholi would be participating in the deliberations.

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