British Prime Minister in India, Trade and Ukraine on the menu

LBritish Prime Minister Boris Johnson landed in India on Thursday for a two-day visit that included trade but also strategic talks, but with little chance of overcoming his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s reluctance to take Western action against the Russian invasion to support Ukraine.

Mr Johnson has arrived in the western state of Gujarat, Mr Modi’s home state, where he will meet with business leaders and embark on a cultural tour of the historic city of Ahmedabad, home to half of the UK’s British Indian population.

Mr Johnson’s visit began with a tour of the Sabarmati Ashram north of Ahmedabad, once the residence of Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi.

There, the British Prime Minister was asked to spin cross-legged on a wooden spinning wheel. A tool presented by Gandhi as a symbol of resistance to British colonial rule in India.

Boris Johnson will then travel to New Delhi to meet Mr Modi on Friday outside the UK Parliament, where a vote must decide whether or not to be referred to a committee responsible for determining whether the Conservative Führer knowingly misled Parliament in his statements or not the “Party Tor”.

? “Incredible Opportunities”?

This trip, twice postponed because of the pandemic, was briefly called into question this week because of this vote, with the opposition calling for his resignation.

But according to British sources, this meeting was deemed too important to be postponed again.

Downing Street has announced it is finalizing bilateral investment deals worth more than £1 billion (€1.2 billion), which will enable the creation of 11,000 jobs in the UK.

“Today we are focused on incredible opportunities to deepen our partnership,” Johnson told reporters Thursday afternoon while visiting a factory in Gujarat.

This journey is expected to result in new partnerships in defense, artificial intelligence and green energy, as well as investment agreements in areas such as robotics, electric vehicles and satellite launches.

But London concedes there is still a long way to go before finalizing a post-Brexit trade deal with Mr Modi’s government, which wants Indians to get more visas to work or study in the UK.

? “Reflect reality”?

As far as the situation in Ukraine is concerned, the two countries take very different positions: London is tightening economic sanctions against Russia and is at the forefront of arms aid to Kyiv.

But India, dependent on imported energy, agricultural products and Russian armaments, refrained from openly condemning the invasion and joining the relevant UN referendums.

“Historically, India and Russia may have had a very different relationship than that which Russia and the UK have had for the past two decades,” Johnson said Thursday when asked about the issue.

“We have to reflect this reality, but of course I will talk about it with Narendra Modi,” he assured.

Mr Modi also dismissed appeals from US President Joe Biden.

Mr Johnson is expected to highlight the benefits of India’s faster transition to renewable energy. “Both of our countries are too dependent on foreign hydrocarbons. And we have to get away from it together,” underlined the British Prime Minister.

“Partnerships in hydrogen, electric vehicles, offshore wind and all means to reduce energy costs” are among the items discussed, he added.

21/04/2022 13:26:22 – Ahmedabad (India) (AFP) – © 2022 AFP

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