UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will be discussing defence and energy ties with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, during talks on Friday, April 22, 2022.
Ahead of their meeting in New Delhi, the pair are expected to talk about a post-Brexit trade deal, ahead of a fresh round of negotiations in the coming week. Mr. Johnson has pledged to raise the issue of India’s relations with Russia amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
As it stands, India is under cohesion to drop its neutral stance about the war, as pressure continues from Western countries. On Thursday, April 21, 2022, Mr. Johnson acknowledged India, which has strong ties to Russia, was “not in the same place” as the UK over the conflict. But he told reporters there was still a “huge amount we can work on together”.
The meeting between the two leaders in India’s capital, New Delhi, is happening on the final day of Mr. Johnson’s two-day trip to the country, which was much delayed by Covid. At the same time, the Prime Minister is facing pressure at home over whether he has misled MPs over lockdown parties in Whitehall. Hence, he is now facing a Commons investigation into the issue, after he abandoned plans to delay a vote on a probe after opposition from his own MPs.
Expectations Ahead of the Meeting
Ahead of their meeting on Friday, April 22, 2022, Downing Street has announced the UK’s plans to streamline its licencing rules for exporting military hardware to India.
No 10 also noted that the two countries would be boosting their security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including the Indian Ocean. Additionally, there is a commitment to increase research into lowering the cost of “green” hydrogen power, which is part of the UK’s renewable energy plans.
The two leaders will also discuss the latest in UK-India trade talks, where Mr. Johnson set an autumn target for an agreement to be signed. However, conversations between the leaders on the invasion of Ukraine are likely to prove more difficult. Along with other Western countries, the UK has tried to persuade India to take a tougher stance against Moscow, which is its (India) biggest arms supplier.
Earlier this month (April), India condemned killings in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, the strongest statement it has made since the start of Russia’s invasion. But it stopped short of blaming Russia for the violence and has not criticised Russia directly since its invasion on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Ahead of his meeting with Mr. Modi, Mr. Johnson said collaboration with India on issues including climate change and security is of “vital importance”.
“The world faces growing threats from autocratic states which seek to undermine democracy, choke off free and fair trade and trample on sovereignty. The UK’s partnership with India is a beacon in these stormy seas.”UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson
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