PM Boris Johnson calls PM Modi ‘khaas dost’, says India-Britain free trade pact by this Diwali
India and United Kingdom on Friday agreed to scale up their relationship with a special focus on a new defence partnership and a Free Trade Agreement. Giving the go-ahead to these crucial pacts in the summit level talks in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also reviewed a series of bilateral ties. The two leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific, with Johnson describing Modi as his “khaas dost (special friend)”.
The proposed defence partnership will see Britain cooperating with India in the domain of fighter jet technology and propulsion systems for the warships. The UK will enable India to acquire frontline know-how to shore up its defence manufacturing capabilities within the country. Addressing the media after the talks, Modi said “While India is celebrating the “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” (75th-year celebration of Independence) the UK Prime Minister’s visit is historic.”
Modi also said the two countries had established a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” last year and the two nations launched an ambitious “Roadmap 2030”, the two sides on Friday reviewed the progress made in this roadmap, and also set some goals for the future. As regards the Free Trade Agreement, he said teams of both the countries are working, and “we have decided to do our best to conclude the FTA by the end of this year. Johnson said the two countries wanted to wrap up the pact before Diwali in October.
On the ties in the sphere of defence and strategic affairs, Modi said both the leaders agreed to enhance cooperation in the defence sector. Elaborating upon the discussions regarding the geopolitical situation, Modi said both sides stressed free, open, inclusive, and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region. India welcomes the UK’s decision to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative, he said.
Reiterating India’s stand on Ukraine, Prime Minister Modi said “We have stressed dialogue and diplomacy in Ukraine for an immediate ceasefire and resolution of the problem. We also reiterated the importance of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries.” Modi put forward India’s perspective on the Ukraine issue and asserted that “we are on the side of peace” and want that there should be dialogue and diplomacy, and the conflict should be resolved soon, he said.
Johnson said the UK is creating an Open General Export Licence (OGEL) for India to “reduce bureaucracy and slashing delivery times” for defence procurement. The British Prime Minister said both sides agreed to work together to meet new threats across land, sea, air space, and cyber domains and that the UK will partner with India on new fighter jet technology as well as in the maritime sphere to detect and respond to threats in the oceans.
Johnson described the talks as wonderful and said the partnership between the UK and India is one of the “defining friendships of our time”. Noting that “threats of autocratic coercion” are growing, the British Prime Minister said it is vital that both India and the UK further deepen their cooperation. He also said “Today, we are announcing new measures to make it easier to export UK-made medical devices to India and ensure mutual recognition of UK higher education qualification,” he said. The visiting Prime Minister also said the UK does not tolerate extremist groups operating in the country and targeting other nations. He made this assertion in the backdrop of India’s concerns over Khalistani elements there.
Johnson also said, “Putin will not be able to conquer the spirit of the people of Ukraine.” The British Prime Minister also informed the UK will reopen its embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine next week. “The UK and our allies will not watch passively as Putin carries on this onslaught,” he said.
Asked about reports of rights violations in India, Johnson said India is a great democracy and has constitutional protection. The two Prime Ministers also discussed new cooperation on clean and renewable energy. Johnson said it was aimed at supporting India’s energy transition from imported oil and increasing its resilience through secure and sustainable energy.
Johnson also said the United Kingdom has ordered the extradition of Indian fugitives Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi and ‘we want them taken back to India for trial.’ He said this in response to a question on attempts to get the duo to face charges of fraud. “… there are technicalities that have made it very difficult (but) the UK government has ordered their extradition and, from our point of view, we want them taken back to India for trial…” Johnson said.
‘We don’t welcome, I want to make it absolutely clear now, people who want to use our legal system to evade the law in India,” he said.
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