Johnson arrives in India to meet Modi and seek economic deals | Health, Medicine and Fitness
By JILL LAWLESS – Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to put political issues aside and focus on economic ties and the war in Ukraine during a long-delayed official trip to India.
Johnson landed in the western state of Gujarat on Thursday, beginning a two-day visit that will see him meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday.
Johnson hopes to strike new economic deals between Britain and its huge former colony, and draw India away from Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Modi called the situation in Ukraine “very worrying” and called on both sides for peace. But India has stayed away from international efforts to criticize President Vladimir Putin, abstaining when the United Nations General Assembly this month voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. the man.
So far, Modi has responded coldly to pressure from President Joe Biden and others to limit Russian oil and gas imports.
India receives little of its oil from Russia, but increased its purchases and bought 3 million barrels of crude last month, just as other democracies have tried to isolate Putin with economic sanctions. India is also a major customer for Russian weapons and has recently purchased advanced Russian air defense systems.
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Johnson’s spokesman Max Blain said Britain would “work with other countries to provide alternative defense and energy supply options for India to diversify its supply chains. supply away from Russia”.
But he stressed that the UK would not “lect other democratically elected governments on the best course of action for them”.
Johnson’s office said the two countries would announce new agreements on defence, green energy, jobs and science partnerships during the prime minister’s trip.
In Gujarat, Johnson plans to announce a series of trade deals, including more than £1 billion ($1.3 billion) in investment and export deals in sectors including software engineering and health, which are expected to create nearly 11,000 jobs in the UK, according to a press release from the British High Commission in New Delhi.
“As I arrive in India today, I see vast possibilities for what our two great nations can achieve together,” Johnson said in the statement.
“Our powerful partnership is creating jobs, growth and opportunity for our employees, and it will only get stronger in the years to come,” Johnson added.
Britain is seeking closer ties with Asian countries as part of an ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’ in its foreign policy after leaving the European Union in 2020. Johnson hopes to advance negotiations on a trade deal post-Brexit between Great Britain and India. , one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Talks began in January, but the prime minister’s spokesman played down the chances of a quick deal, saying “we don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed”.
The trip could also offer Britain’s prime minister a brief respite after a scandal over which government parties broke the lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson was fined by police last week for attending his own surprise birthday party at 10 Downing St. in June 2020, when Britons were barred from meeting friends and family outside the home. It is one of twelve rallies at government buildings that police are investigating for possible lockdown breaches in a scandal known as ‘partygate’.
On Tuesday, Johnson offered lawmakers in parliament what he called an “unqualified” apology, but insisted he had not knowingly broken the rules and dismissed calls for him to resign.
The trip means Johnson will miss an opposition-triggered vote in the House of Commons on Thursday on whether he should be investigated for allegedly misleading Parliament when he denied having violates pandemic restrictions.
His trip to India had been scheduled and canceled twice before due to the evolving pandemic.
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