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UK agrees to support India's defence manufacturing

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra
Last updated on: April 23, 2022 02:38 IST
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Friday agreed on a new and expanded India-United Kingdom defence partnership, which will include support for new Indian-designed and built fighter jets, and signalled that an ambitious free trade pact to stimulate broad-based economic engagement could be wrapped up by October.

IMAGE: United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Prime Minister Narendra Modi prior to their meeting at Hyderabad House, in New Delhi. Photograph: Press Information Bureau of India

After his wide-ranging talks with Modi on the second and final day of his India visit, Johnson said the new defence and security partnership will enable India to strengthen its domestic defence industry as well as help the two countries protect vital shared interests in the Indo-Pacific.

 

The British prime minister also announced that the UK is creating an Open General Export Licence (OGEL) for India to 'reduce bureaucracy and slashing delivery times' for defence procurement and that London will help New Delhi in the co-development of military hardware including indigenous production of fighter jets.

During their talks, the two prime ministers deliberated on the situation in Ukraine and expressed in the strongest terms their concern about the ongoing conflict and humanitarian situation in that country.

A joint statement said Modi and Johnson 'unequivocally condemned' the civilian deaths, and reiterated the 'need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, which was having severe implications across the globe, in particular for developing countries'.

At a media briefing, Foreign Secretary, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said Johnson did not put pressure on India on its position on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including adherence to the sanctions against Moscow.

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 help India develop its defence manufacturing as well as in the maritime sphere to detect and respond to threats in the oceans.

He said the threats of 'autocratic coercion' have grown further and it is vital that India and the UK deepen their cooperation including protecting shared interest in keeping the Indo-Pacific open and free.

"Today we've agreed on a new and expanded defence and security partnership, a decades-long commitment that will not only forge tighter bonds between us but support your goal, Narendra of 'Make in India'," he said, describing Modi as his khaas dost (special friend).

Referring to the free trade agreement (FTA), Johnson said both sides wanted the negotiators to close the deal before Diwali in October.

The British prime minister said India is an 'incredible rising power in Asia' with one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and set to be the third-largest economy by 2050.

In his comments, Modi said, 'good progress' is being made in the negotiations for the FTA and that both sides have decided to do their best to close the pact by the end of this year.

The statement said Modi welcomed UK's commitment to public finance to the tune of $1 billion investment through British International Investment (BII), the UK's Development Finance Institution, into climate-related projects in India over the period of 2022-2026.

"On this visit alone we've secured new deals worth 1 billion pounds, creating more than 11,000 jobs," Johnson said.

On the Ukraine crisis, Modi stressed on an immediate ceasefire and resolution of the problem through dialogue and diplomacy.

"We also reiterated the importance of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries," he said.

India reiterated its support for a peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan having an inclusive and representative government, Modi said and added 'it is essential that Afghan territory must not be used to spread terrorism in other countries'.

The joint statement said the two leaders expressed 'zero tolerance' for terrorism in all its forms and for all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups.

'They called upon all countries to work together to root out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupt terrorist networks and their financing channels, and halt the cross-border movement of terrorists,' it said.

It said Modi and Johnson reiterated their condemnation of terrorist attacks in India and the UK, including the Mumbai and Pathankot attacks.

'They emphasised the importance of perpetrators of terrorist attacks being systematically and expeditiously brought to justice, and agreed to work together to take concerted action against globally proscribed terrorist entities and individuals,' the statement said.

Johnson also said India was the UK's biggest partner in the Indo-Pacific, which is increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world, with two-thirds of humanity, and a third of the global economy -- and that share is rising every year.

The two sides inked two government-to-government MoUs, including one on cooperation on the global centre for nuclear energy partnership between India's department of atomic energy and the department of business, energy and industrial strategy of the UK.

Four non-governmental MoUs were also inked.

The two prime ministers acknowledged that current global energy price volatility underscored the importance of domestic and international energy security and the clean energy transition.

'They welcomed progress on offshore wind energy, and electric mobility since the signing of the zero-emission vehicles declaration. They agreed to strengthen collaboration, including through the joint declaration of intent between India's National Institute of Wind Energy and the UK's Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult,' the joint statement said.

'They also noted a USD 200 million guarantee by GuarantCo for Axis Bank, to accelerate India's transition to electric vehicles. They appreciated the ongoing cooperation on the development and deployment of affordable green hydrogen for both countries, including through the India-UK Science and Innovation Partnership on Green Hydrogen and joint work on a Green Hydrogen Hub,' it said.

In his comments, Johnson also described the talks as wonderful and said the partnership between the UK and India is one of the 'defining friendships of our time'.

"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.

Johnson, who was on a two-day India trip, visited Gujarat on Thursday before arriving in New Delhi late last evening.

The British prime minister said he received an amazing reception in Gujarat and felt like he was Sachin Tendulkar.

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.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Utkarsh Mishra© Copyright 2022 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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