India a highly valued strategic partner for UK in these uncertain times: Boris Johnson ahead of visit

London/New Delhi, April 17 : Days after his visit to Kyiv where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a show of solidarity, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to visit India to boost ties with a “major economic power and a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times”. The UK PM will be beginning his India visit in Ahmedabad on April 21 where he will meet with leading businesses and is expected to announce major investment in key industries. He will travel to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday April 22 where the two leaders will hold in-depth talks on the bilateral strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership. In a statement, Prime Minister Johnson said: “As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is vital that democracies and friends stick together. India, as a major economic power and the world’s largest democracy, is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times. “My visit to India will deliver on the things that really matter to the people of both our nations – from job creation and economic growth, to energy security and defence.” No 10 Downing Street, in a statement, said PM Johnson “will visit India this week to deepen our long-term partnership for peace and prosperity with a fellow leading democracy, in the face of global economic challenges and threats from autocratic states”. In Ahmedabad, where he arrives on on Thursday, he will meet with leading businesses and discuss the UK and India’s thriving commercial, trade and people links. This will be the first time a UK Prime Minister has visited Gujarat, India’s fifth largest state and the ancestral home of around half of the British-Indian population in the UK. He will then travel to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Modi on Friday April 22. The leaders will hold in-depth talks on the UK and India’s strategic defence, diplomatic and economic partnership, aimed at bolstering our close partnership and stepping up security co-operation in the Indo-Pacific. In Gujarat, Prime Minister Johnson is expected to announce major investment in key industries in both the UK and India, boosting jobs and growth at home, as well as new collaboration on cutting-edge science, health and technology. He will use the visit to drive progress in the Free Trade Agreement negotiations launched earlier this year – a deal with India is predicted to boost our total trade by up to £28 billion annually by 2035 and increase incomes across the UK by up to £3 billion. Last year, the two Prime Ministers agreed on a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, announcing more than pounds 530 million in investment into the UK and committing to a deeper bilateral relationship across trade, health, climate, defence and security, and connecting our people. India was identified as a priority relationship for the UK in the 2021 Integrated Review and was invited by the UK as a guest to last year’s G7 in Carbis Bay. The UK is leveraging post-Brexit trade opport ties with India’s growing economy to drive down prices in key commodities for consumers, open opport ties for UK businesses in areas like green tech and services, and create high-wage, high-skill jobs. Investment from Indian companies already supports 95,000 jobs across the UK, which is expected to be boosted by upcoming announcements and a future free trade deal, the statement said. The UK PM’s India visit comes days after he was in Kyiv where he met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in a “show of solidarity” with the Ukrainian people. Following the meeting, Downing Street said the UK would send 120 armoured vehicles and anti-ship missile systems to support Ukraine. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was in New Delhi on March 31, in her second visit to India as Foreign Secretary, following one in October 2021. Her visit was aimed at raising the issue of Russian oil imports by India and came on the day Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived on a bilateral visit. The UK PM’s visit also comes amid the ‘Partygate’ scandal, with both PM Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak having been fined by the Metropolitan Police over lockdown parties in Downing Street. PM Johnson has promised to address parliament next week about his fine for breaching Covid laws and “set the record straight in any way that I can” on his previous claims that no rules were broken. While PM Johnson has offered a “full apology” after being fined for breaching Covid-19 lockdown laws in the so-called “Partygate” scandal, he has defied calls for his resignation. “Let me say immediately that I’ve paid the fine and I once again offer a full apology,” Johnson said during televised remarks. Johnson’s office said his fine was for attending a surprise birthday gathering in his honour on the afternoon of June 19, 2020 in the Cabinet Room at Number 10. RN

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