British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that his long-delayed visit to India will deepen the strategic trade, defense, and people-to-people ties between the two countries.
Ahead of Johnson’s two-day visit, Downing Street has stressed that the UK would not look to “lecture” India over its neutral stance in the United Nations or its decision to hike Russian oil imports.
The UK has been trying to persuade India to reduce its reliance on Moscow since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Addressing the House of Commons for his weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Johnson said the trip to Ahmedabad and New Delhi will build on India being invited as a guest country for the G7 Summit hosted by the UK in Cornwall in June last year.
“I will be traveling to India to deepen the strategic trade, defense, and people-to-people ties between our two countries, building on India’s involvement in the Carbis Bay G7 summit,” Johnson told members of Parliament.
It will be Johnson’s first major trip to India as Prime Minister after previous visits were postponed due to Covid.
“I will be seeing Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi in Delhi, meeting Indian businesspeople investing in the UK, and visiting British investments in India, he said.
Prime Minister Modi had addressed the G7 summit at Carbis Bay virtually as his travel plans were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The two leaders met in person later in the year, when Modi traveled to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit in November. This followed Johnson’s planned visits to India in 2021 being canceled twice due to the pandemic situation in either country.
It is expected that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will feature prominently during the bilateral talks between the leaders when Johnson is in New Delhi on Friday.
Downing Street has stressed that the UK would not look to “lecture” India over its neutral stance in the United Nations or its decision to hike Russian oil imports.
“This visit is not framed on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Obviously, that is really important but this is a visit we have planned for a very long time. India is an incredibly important partner,” Johnson’s official spokesperson, who is accompanying him to India, told reporters at Downing Street.