UK PM calls PM Modi his ‘Khaas Dost’, talks about the free trade agreement

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Calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi his “Khaas Dost,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that India and the United Kingdom are on the path to sign a free-trade agreement by Diwali this year. The British PM said “As the next round of talks begins here next week, we’re telling our negotiators to get it done by Diwali. This could double our trade and investment by the end of the decade.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on his two-day visit to India. He started his visit from Ahmedabad yesterday and has become the first British Prime Minister to visit Gujarat. Johnson also visited Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram and tried his hand at spinning the iconic charkha. The UK Prime Minister met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi today. Ahead of the meeting, Johnson tweeted that he was looking forward to meeting PM Modi. He said the partnership of the two democratic nations is vital as the world faces growing threats from autocratic states.

According to officials, in a meeting with PM Narendra Modi, British PM Johnson discussed next-generation defense and security collaboration with his Indian counterpart, including support for building indigenous fighter jets. The two countries have a “shared interest in keeping the Indo-Pacific open and free”, he added, calling the new partnership “a decades-long commitment”.

“We are extending our partnership as science superpowers and building on the collaboration between Oxford AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India, which vaccinated more than a billion people globally against Covid. I have the Indian jab in my arm, and a power of good it did for me. So many thanks to India. And that has helped India to become what Narendra has called the pharmacy of the world,” said the UK PM, addressing a joint press conference with PM Modi.

UK PM further said he agrees with India’s stand on the Russia-Ukraine war as India has a historic relationship with Russia that everybody understands and respects. Acknowledging India’s strong condemnation of what happened in Ukraine’s Bucha, Boris Johnson said, “Talking to Narendra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made it clear that he has already intervened several times and I am sure this is no secret from our Indian (media) friends, he has talked to Vladimir Putin several times.” “What Indians want is peace and they want Russia out. And I totally agree. And I think there is a difference in balance as India has a historic relationship with Russia that everybody understands and respects that goes back decades,” he further said.

“What was so interesting about the last couple of days was the way in which Britain and India are being really encouraged, obliged by the pressure against autocratic coercion, whether it’s Russia or China or whatever to do more together. And that is offering a huge, huge joint agenda,” the UK PM said.

Narendra Modi said that they discussed the need to end the war in Ukraine. He said, “We reiterated the importance of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all nations.”

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