New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Monday
left on a two-nation state visit to the UK and Cyprus during
which she will receive the Commonwealth baton from Queen
Elizabeth, marking initiation of the year-long relay of the
symbol of the sporting event to be held here next October.
London will be the first stop of Patil`s week-long
two-nation tour that will also take her to Cyprus.
During her visit to Britain, first by an Indian
President after 20 years, she will hold talks with Prime
Minister Gordon Brown and meet Leader of Opposition David
Cameroon. Queen Elizabeth will host a banquet in honour of the
The highlight of the visit will be presentation to the
President of some letters of Mahatma Gandhi and a piece of
khadi cloth by two prominent Indians -- Nath Puri and Ghulam
Noon -- who have purchased these in an auction.
In 1990, the then President R Venkatraman had paid a
State visit to the UK. Prior to him, V Radhakrishnan had
visited the country in 1963.
In the second leg of the visit, the President will
travel to Cyprus where she will meet President Demetris
Christofias and other senior leaders. The visit comes about two
decades after former President R Venkataraman travelled to the
The population of Indians in Cyprus, which is slightly
smaller than Tripura, has grown more than 10-fold since 1997
when only 300-400 long-term Indian residents were present.
Most of the Indians living in Cyprus are software
professionals and students.
Trade between the two countries has grown to 54.46
million Euros in 2008 from 39.78 million Euros in 2007 with
Indian exports to Cyprus to the tune of 47.13 million Euros
which comprise metals, machinery, pharmaceuticals among
Cyprus government has decided to develop hi-tech and
knowledge-based industries as the third pillar of its economy
which can give Indian companies a potential strong market.