New Delhi: Prime Minister John Key and Mrs Key arrived this evening in New Delhi, beginning a four day state visit to India.
Mr and Mrs Key were accorded an official welcome at the Safdarjung Airport on their arrival at 6:30pm local time by a Royal New Zealand Airforce jet.
Indian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs E Ahamed welcomed the Prime Minister and Mrs Key on behalf of the Indian Government. Also present at the welcome were India's High Commissioner to New Zealand Admiral (Retd) Sureesh Mehta and Mrs Mehta and his counterpart NZ High Commissioner to India Jan Henderson. A contingent of officials from the Indian and New Zealand governments were also present.
The accompanying delegation comprises 28 businesspeople from New Zealand, NZ member of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, several government offcials and a media contingent.
The state visit is in response to the Indian Government's invitation to Mr Key earlier this year. The two countries have been pursuing a Free Trade Agreement.
India's Minister for Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma, during a visit to New Zealand in May said he was hopeful the negotiations would be completed by early next year.
Replying to a question during a media session during a refuelling stop at Darwin in Australia, Mr Key said he saw dairy and the cold chain technology industry as the biggest opportunity for New Zealand in India. He said India was a huge market that was growing at a fast pace.
New Zealand's experience with the FTA with China would stand it in good stead during the coming months of negotiations on the Indian FTA, he said.
Mr and Mrs Key will leave early Tuesday morning for a visit to the Taj before returning to New Delhi to attend a string of official engagements over the next two days.