New Delhi: Britain and India on Friday agreed to their new defence and security partnership as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson held delegation-level talks at Hyderabad House in the national capital.
During a joint statement, PM Modi said that Boris Johnson’s visit to India during ‘Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ is “historic”.
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At the event, both leaders witnessed the exchange of agreements between India and the United Kingdom.
“We expressed our commitment to fulfilling promises made during the last COP 26. We invite the UK to join India’s National Hydrogen Mission… We stressed on a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region,” PM Modi said, as quoted by news agency ANI.
The leaders reviewed the progress made in the implementation of Roadmap 2030 and also set some goals for the future.
PM Modi mentioned that good progress is being made in negotiations for India-UK free trade agreement and said, “We have decided to do our best to conclude India-UK free trade agreement by end of this year,” news agency PTI reported.
“We emphasised on the need for free, open, inclusive and rules-based order in Indo-Pacific. We reiterated importance of respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries,” he added.
PM Modi also mentioned the concerns on Afghanistan saying, “It is necessary that Afghan territory is not used to spread terrorism in other countries. We reiterated our support for peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan”.
Agreed on new and expanded defence, security partnership: Boris Johnson
Meanwhile, British PM Boris Johnson announced: “We have agreed on a new and expanded defence and security partnership”, PTI reported.
He said that he and PM Modi had “wonderful talks today and have strengthened our relationship in every way. “The partnership between India and Britain is one of the defining friendships of our times,” he added, as quoted by ANI.
Today, we have agreed on a new and expanded defence and security partnership: British PM Johnson after talks with Modi
The British Prime Minister further stressed that “since last year, the threats of autocratic coercion have grown even further, therefore it is vital we deepen our cooperation including our shared interest in keeping the Indo-Pacific open and free.”
“The UK is creating an India-specific open general export license reducing bureaucracy and reducing delivery times for defence procurement,” he added.
The British prime minister arrived in India on Thursday on a two-day visit in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Ahead of the talks, the UK said it will offer India the best of British know-how on building battle-winning aircraft and support the country’s requirements for new technology to respond to threats in the Indian Ocean.
In a statement, the British High Commission said the UK will issue an Open General Export Licence (OGEL) to India to cut the delivery period for defence procurement.
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar called on Johnson.
“Delighted to call on UK PM @BorisJohnson during his India visit. Discussed our expanding partnership and implementing the #IndiaUK Roadmap 2030,” Jaishankar tweeted.
The India-UK relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the India-UK virtual summit held between Modi and Johnson in May last year.
At the summit, the two sides adopted a 10-year-roadmap to expand ties in the key areas of trade and economy, defence and security, climate change and people-to-people connections among others.