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UK, India agree to step up defence, trade cooperation

The United Kingdom and India have agreed to step up defence and business cooperation, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicating a bilateral free-trade deal could be wrapped up by October this year.

On his first visit to the Indian capital since taking office in 2019, Johnson held talks with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, on ways to boost security ties between London and New Delhi, which buys more than half of its military hardware from Russia, reports Al Jazeera.

“We had wonderful talks that have strengthened our relationship in every way,” Johnson told a joint news briefing with Modi on Friday, at the end of his two-day trip.

“We have agreed a new and expanded defence and security partnership, a decades-long commitment that will not only forge tighter bonds between us, but support your goal of ‘Make in India’,” he added, referring to the Indian premier’s domestic manufacturing push.

Modi meanwhile hailed Johnson’s visit – which came as India marks its 75th year of independence – as “historic”.

“We discussed several regional and international developments and stressed a free, open, inclusive and rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.