Indian President arrives in London for launch of Baton Relay
By Duncan Mackay
October 26 - Indian President Pratibha Patil (pictured) arrived in Britain tonight for a state visit during which she will join the Queen to launch the Baton Relay for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Patil, the first Indian head of state to visit Britain for 20 years, touched down to a red carpet reception at Heathrow airport where she was greeted by dignitaries including the head of the capital's Metropolitan Police, Paul Stephenson.
During her visit, Patil will visit Windsor Castle tomorrow for a ceremonial welcome and state banquet, then hold talks with Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the President will attend the launch of the Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton Relay at Buckingham Palace in London.
The relay will travel through 70 countries and reach the Indian capital when the Games open on October 3, 2010.
Patil will be joined by India's Prime Minister Manhoman Singh, who is trying to reassure the international community that the Games will be successful despite fears over security and whether the facilities will be ready in time.
The build-up has also recently been overshadowed by a row between Suresh Kalmadi, the chairman of the New Delhi organising committee, and Mike Hooper, the chief executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
Randhir Singh, the deputy chairman of the organising committee, claimed that the Prime Minister's backing is crucial to the event's success.
He said: "The Prime Minister’s assurance has given tremendous confidence to the entire team.
"It is nice to know that we have the full support of the Government.
"It has certainly raised the spirit of the organising committee."
October 2009: Coe to take part in Queen's Baton Relay
October 2009: Indian Sports Minister holds talks between Kalmadi and Hooper
October 2009: Hooper backed as outstanding chief executive by Fennell
October 2009: Hooper will not be sent home as Kalmadi alleges he has acted inappropriately