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Modi and Cameron reaffirm UK-India ties

The British and Indian prime ministers took to the stage at a packed Wembley Stadium in London. The leaders sought to emphasize the countries' close cultural and economic ties.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a speech Friday night to an estimated 70,000 people in London, shortly after his British counterpart, David Cameron, espoused the virtues of the UK-India relationship.

Standing before an audience waving Indian flags and Union Jacks, Modi called the day "a historic day for a great partnership."

His speech was broadcast on Indian television as well.

Modi was in the country to promote bilateral ties between India and the UK. The culmination of the trip was Friday's Bollywood-style extravaganza at London's Wembley Stadium, which also coincides with the traditional Indian celebration of Hindu Diwali.

Before Modi took to the stage, the audience was treated to a lavish spectacle featuring rapper Jay Sean, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Scottish bagpipers.

Billions in business deals

David Cameron delivered a speech as well, in which he exalted the enduring relationship between the two countries, saying that British Indians put "the great into Great Britain."

"India-UK ties are about people and about prosperity," Cameron said as he introduced Modi.

Indeed, the British prime minister said the two countries were

likely to sign deals

worth 9 billion pounds ($14 billion, 12.7 billion euros) by the end of the trip.

Earlier on Friday, Modi met with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Ending almost two centuries of heavy British influence in commerce and, over time, power over its government, India achieved independence from the British Empire in 1947. Since then, the UK and India have maintained close ties. The UK invests heavily in India, and Indians make up its largest ethnic group. Despite friction with Modi in the past, the British government has made strides in improving relations with the Hindu nationalist leader since he became prime minister in 2014.

blc/kms (AP, dpa)

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