British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Friday condemned the killing of civilians in Ukraine and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
The meeting between the two leaders took place in New Delhi on the last day of Johnson’s visit, during which the situation in Afghanistan, free trade and the development of defense cooperation, as well as Ukraine were discussed.
In a joint statement after the meeting, issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.
Modi and Johnson reaffirmed their commitment to transform bilateral defense and security cooperation as a key pillar of the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, as well as expanding commitments to support a free, open and secure Indo-Pacific region.
The leaders stressed the importance of establishing strong defense-industrial cooperation under the Make in India program through joint development, technology transfer and business creation to meet the needs of the Indian armed forces and other countries.
In this regard, they discussed cooperation in the development of key elements such as modern combat aircraft and advanced jet engine technology.
The leaders welcomed the start of negotiations for a free trade agreement and highlighted “good progress”.
“A free trade agreement with India could double our trade and investment by the end of the decade,” Johnson said in the Trail, calling on negotiators to reach an agreement on the Diwali Festival of Lights, which will begin to be celebrated from April 24.
In a separate press conference, India’s foreign minister, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, said the UK had “not pressured” New Delhi to take a stand against Moscow.
India abstained from voting on UN resolutions condemning Moscow for its “special military operation” against Ukraine and instead increased its purchases of oil from Russia, its largest arms supplier.
On the other hand, Johnson announced that the UK will reopen its embassy in Kyiv next week as a sign of support for the Ukrainian people.
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Johnson explained that the decision was due in large part to the “extraordinary strength and extraordinary success” of Ukrainian forces in resisting repeated attempts by Russian forces to invade the Ukrainian capital.
“I want to pay tribute to the British diplomats who have remained in other parts of the region during this period,” Johnson said, stressing that “the UK and our allies will not be watching passively while Putin carries out this attack.”
In February, the UK moved its embassy in Kyiv to the western city of Lviv before Russian aggression.
The decision was announced a day after Spain also announced the reopening of its embassy in Kyiv.
* Translated by Daniel Gallego.
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