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Rajnath Singh calls on Rishi Sunak to discuss defence and free trade agreement negotiations

According to senior officials familiar with the discussions, defence, trade and regional issues were on the agenda of the talks.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 London Updated on: January 11, 2024 11:14 IST
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with British PM Rishi Sunak
Image Source : RAJNATH SINGH/X Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with British PM Rishi Sunak

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at 10 Downing Street, London on Wednesday and discussed a wide range of bilateral issues. According to senior officials familiar with the discussions, defence, trade and regional issues were on the agenda of the talks. The progress of the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations was also touched upon.

During the meeting, Sunak expressed hope that the ongoing FTA negotiations could be concluded soon. The Defence Minister and Sunak also agreed on the need for the two nations to work together in trade, defence and technology sectors, the Ministry of Defence said in a press release. He expressed the keenness of the UK government to strengthen the defence and security pillars of the bilateral partnership.

"Prime Minister Sunak fully agreed with the Raksha Mantri on the need for the UK and India to work in the domains of trade, defence and technology. In particular, he expressed hope that the ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations could be brought to a successful conclusion soon," the Ministry of Defence said in a press release.

The meeting between the two leaders was "warm and cordial," according to the press release. During the meeting, Rajnath Singh highlighted that both nations have made significant strides in moulding and recrafting the historic ties into a modern, multifaceted and mutually beneficial partnership, under the direction of the leaders of both nations.

Besides Sunak, Singh was also hosted by UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). “Insightful deliberations with the UK Foreign Secretary, Mr David Cameron, on boosting India-UK ties and deepening cooperation between both the countries,” Singh said in a statement on social media.

Singh also meets UK-India Defence Industry CEOs 

The two high-level meetings followed the minister co-chairing a UK-India Defence Industry CEOs Roundtable with his UK counterpart, Grant Shapps.

The roundtable was attended by several chief executives from the UK defence industry, UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials, and the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) India representatives.

Some of the major defence companies represented at the interaction included BAE Systems, GE Vernova, James Fisher Defence, Leonardo SpA, Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, SAAB UK, Thales UK, Ultra-Maritime Rolls-Royce, ADS Group, and MBDA UK.

“Had a wonderful interaction with the industry leaders and CEOs at the UK-India Defence CEO Roundtable in London,” Singh said in a statement on social media.

“India envisions an enriching partnership with the UK to cooperate, co-create and co-innovate. By synergising the strengths of both the countries, we can do great things together,” he said.

The meeting was also attended by UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement James Cartildge and included thematic discussions on strengthening the India-UK defence industrial relationship.

According to the Indian Ministry of Defence, the Raksha Mantri welcomed the investment and technology collaboration from the UK and stated that India is ready with a skilled human resource base, a robust pro-FDI and pro-business ecosystem, and a huge domestic market.

Singh, on a three-day visit to the UK – the first by an Indian Defence Minister in 22 years, is scheduled to interact with the members of the diaspora at a community reception at the conclusion of his visit on Wednesday evening.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also Read: UK to send warships to Indian Ocean in an attempt to boost strategic ties with India: Defence Secy

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