NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Britain and India agreed on Friday to a “new and broader” defense and security partnership, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced under fire during a visit to New Delhi. Delhi.
Johnson traveled to India as he faces criticism at home and the embarrassing prospect of an investigation into whether he lied to parliament about the lockdown-breaking ‘Partygate’ scandal.
India is part of the Quad grouping with the United States, Japan and Australia, which is seen as a bulwark against an increasingly assertive China. But New Delhi also has a long history of cooperation with Moscow during the Cold War, still its biggest military supplier, and has refused to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
“Threats of autocratic coercion have increased even further,” Johnson said alongside his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, in an apparent reference to Beijing. “And so it is vital that we deepen our cooperation, including our common interest in keeping the Indo-Pacific open and free.”
Johnson says New Delhi’s stance on Russia won’t change, war in Ukraine could last until end of 2023
The new partnership was “a decades-long commitment”, he added, hailing the relationship between “one of the oldest democracies, and India, certainly the largest democracy”.
It was “historic” that Johnson’s visit to India came in the 75th year of its independence, Modi said. “We discussed several regional and international developments and emphasized a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific,” he added.
Exact details of the security partnership were not immediately available.
But Johnson said the two had agreed to work together in defense procurement “to address land, sea and air, space and cyber threats, including by partnering with new fighter jet technologies, maritime technologies to detect and respond to threats in the oceans”.
New Delhi has long sought to boost its domestic military manufacturing capacity, partly to reduce its dependence on Moscow and partly as a contribution to its “Make in India” campaign.
A stream of diplomatic visitors have visited New Delhi in recent weeks as a US-led alliance seeks to lure India away from Moscow, promising enhanced security, defense and military cooperation. energy.
Modi held telephone talks with US President Joe Biden last week, while European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen is due to arrive on Sunday.
India has called for an end to violence while refusing to explicitly condemn Russia and has abstained on Western-backed United Nations resolutions censuring Moscow.
“India’s position on Russia is not going to change,” British Prime Minister Johnson said after meeting Modi. “The position on Russia that Indians have historically is well known. They’re not going to change that, of course it’s true,” Johnson told a news conference in New Delhi.
“But they can see what is happening and there is a growing desire to do more with the UK.”
Johnson also said there may not be a quick end to the conflict in Ukraine because of the fierce resistance to the Russian invasion. Asked if he agreed with defense intelligence assessments that the fighting could drag on until the end of next year, he told reporters: “What is Sadly, it’s a realistic possibility.”
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a “catastrophic mistake” in ordering the invasion. But he paid tribute to Ukrainian resistance and outlined planned and potential military support for the country and its neighbors.
Posted in Dawn, April 23, 2022