London: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit India next week and will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi to bolster close partnership and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
"The visit will begin from Ahmedabad on Thursday (21st April) to 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 will visit Gujarat, India's fifth-largest state and the ancestral home of around half of the British-Indian population in the UK," Downing Street said in a statement.
In Gujarat, Johnson is expected to announce new science, health and technology projects, as well as major investments in key industries in the United Kingdom and India. "The Prime Minister will then travel to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday (22nd April). The leaders will hold in-depth talks on the UK and India's strategic defense, diplomatic and economic partnership, aimed at bolstering our close partnership and stepping up security co-operation in the Indo-Pacific," the release added.
According to the British government, Johnson will use the upcoming visit to India to drive progress in the negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement, which is expected to boost bilateral trade by up to 28 billion pounds (USD 36.5 billion) annually by 2035.
"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," Johnson said as quoted in the Sunday government statement.
Notably, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month and agreed to build a strong relationship between the two countries on trade, security and business in the coming days. "Today @narendramodi and I spoke about the grave situation in Ukraine and agreed its sovereignty must be respected. The UK-India relationship continues to go from strength to strength, and we'll build on our trade, security and business ties in the coming weeks and months," Johnson had tweeted post the conversation.
During the conversation, PM Modi and Johnson had discussed issues of bilateral interests and agreed on the potential of further deepening cooperation in various areas including trade, technology, investments, defence and security besides people-to-people relations.
Last year, the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi agreed on a UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, announcing more than £530m 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 opportunities with India's growing economy to drive down prices in key commodities for consumers, open opportunities 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.