West Bengal and Britain sign 21 MoUs

 West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led delegation to the UK today clinched 21 MoUs with the UK in the fields of industry, health, education and urban development.

PTI| Last Updated: Jul 28, 2015, 04:42 AM IST

London: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led delegation to the UK today clinched 21 MoUs with the UK in the fields of industry, health, education and urban development.

The agreements were signed during a bilateral meeting with Britain's Minister of State for Employment and British Prime Minister David Cameron's Indian Diaspora champion Priti Patel at a reception hosted at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) here.

"This is a landmark visit... These MoUs will help bring the UK and West Bengal ever closer, and unleash the potential of our relationship," Patel said in her address.

"For 34 years, West Bengal languished under Communist rule. The state had tremendous potential, but that potential remained unfulfilled... I am delighted to say that things are changing fast. Today, West Bengal is on the move.

"Under Mamata Banerjee's leadership the state is enjoying a renaissance and its potential is beginning to be realized," said the Indian-origin minister, who had accompanied Cameron to Kolkata in 2013.

"The Prime Minister was impressed. It was clear to him this was a state ? and a Chief Minister ? that we could do business with. That's why he invited you (Banerjee) to visit London," she said on behalf of the British Prime Minister, who is on a tour of South East Asia.

Earlier, Cameron in a letter to Banerjee wrote: "I am sorry that my travel plans mean I will not be in London to see you in person. Our relationship with India is a priority for the UK and we look forward to welcoming your Prime Minister to the UK later this year."

Commenting on the personal letter from Cameron, Banerjee responded: "21 MoU's are a good sign of Britain's partnership with Bengal. I thank him for his good wishes."

The MoUs included academic exchange programmes between the University of Cambridge and Presidency University, Kolkata, in the field of Arts and Humanities and between London-based School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Presidency for the study of Bangla language.

In the health sector, a MoU was signed between the Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal, and the UK's Royal College of General Practitioners for technical support for running post-graduate diploma courses on family medicine.

It also included a technical collaboration for development of micro climate controlled bio domes for "Eco Tourism Township" in Kolkata.

Banerjee is on a five-day visit to the UK and is accompanied by a 62-member delegation.