New Delhi: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “won’t lecture” his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on India’s stand on the Russia-Ukraine war, when they meet for their first in-person bilateral summit this Friday in New Delhi.
Johnson is arriving in Ahmedabad early Thursday, where he is expected to have a day-long programme, and then leave for New Delhi in the evening.
The discussions will mainly be on cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, expansion of defence ties and the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a high-ranking diplomatic official said Wednesday, requesting anonymity.
According to the official, it is not Johnson’s “style” to “lecture” other countries on their positions on geopolitical issues. The official said this was also UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss’ stand when she visited India last month.
The official said both sides will state their perspectives on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and New Delhi and London both understand “each other’s position”.
Last week, announcing his visit to India, Johnson had said that he would want India and the UK to “stick together” as “democracies and friends” against “autocratic states”.
Earlier this month, Johnson had visited Ukraine, where he met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and vowed military help to Kyiv by providing more equipment, especially armoured vehicles and anti-ship weapons, to fight Russian forces.
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More market access for British apples, medical devices
The official said India and the UK are making progress on a free trade agreement, since the negotiations were officially launched in January this year.
As a result, Britain will now be able to sell more of its apples and medical devices in Indian markets, while Indian shrimps will find their way to the British and European markets.
However, according to the official, larger market access issues will be taken up in the upcoming rounds between the sides, which will take place later this year.
The UK PM’s visit “will provide the necessary momentum” to ongoing talks, the official said.
The official said Gujarat ranks high on Johnson’s agenda as a chunk of Indian diaspora living in the UK comes from Gujarat. British Home Secretary Priti Patel also has her roots in Gujarat.
Discussions on the Indo-Pacific and how to make it free from coercion will also be discussed by both leaders while they discuss enhancing defence ties.
(Edited by Manoj Ramachandran)
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