A day after his government scrapped the controversial 3,000-pound visa bond scheme that was aimed at restricting visitors from some Asian and African countries, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the proposed scheme was never targeted at India.
According to the scheme, visitors would have paid a 3,000-pound cash bond before arrival in the UK, which would be forfeited if they failed to make the return trip. The aim was to reduce the number of people from some "high risk" countries, including India, Pakistan, and Nigeria, staying in the UK once their short-term visa had expired.
"It was never targeted at India," Cameron said ahead of visiting India on November 14, his third trip in two years. "It was an idea suggested within government but we decided not to go ahead with the idea... We want people from India to visit Britain."
India had conveyed its serious concern
about the scheme to the British government both at the ministerial and official levels.
"We have no limit on the number of students who can come," Cameron said, adding that he encourages a visa service for business as he wants to see the ties between the two countries grow.
Cameron, who will make a day-long visit before heading to Sri Lanka to attend Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on November 15-16, will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on key bilateral and regional issues.
The British PM said his government is engaging with BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, as it does with all opposition parties in many countries. But, he ruled out any meeting with the Gujarat Chief Minister during his India visit next week.
"Britain is a democracy. We talk to and engage with opposition parties in all countries - India included. If we think there are things that we've not got right, we can have free and frank discussions about those things," he told the channel.
Britain's Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire met Modi in Gujarat in March, saying it was "a logical next step" in Britain's ties with the Indian state.