Boris Johnson in India, eyeing investment

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Boris Johnson in India, eyeing investment

Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, arrived in India on Thursday, citing job-creating investment but facing long odds to get his reluctant counterpart Narendra Modi to back Western action against Russia.

Johnson arrived in Gujarat Modi's home state and the ancestral home to half of the British Indians - where he is meeting business leaders and taking a cultural tour of the historic Ahmedabad city.

Johnson will be given some respite from the partygate controversy over his criminal violation of the Pandemic lockdown rules after he leaves New Delhi to meet his Indian counterpart on Friday.

Johnson will not be able to make a parliamentary vote on Thursday about whether he deliberately misled the House of Commons in previously denying any Downing Street rule-breaking matter.

The India trip was twice postponed because of Covid 19 flare-ups in each country, and was briefly in doubt this week when the vote was announced, with opposition leaders insisting Johnson stand down.

Sources in the UK said it was too important to put off again. Downing Street said it would seal two-way investment deals worth more than 1 billion $1.3 billion, creating more than 11,000 jobs in Britain.

Johnson told reporters while he was visiting a factory in Gujarat, the incredible opportunities to deepen this partnership are what we're focusing on today.

Johnson's visit began with a trip to Sabarmati ashram, once the home of independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, where he was invited to sit cross-legged and work on a wooden spinning wheel.

Gandhi was a symbol of resistance to Britain's colonial rule of India and was once vital to the local textile industry.

Downing Street said that the visit would result in new partnerships on defence, artificial intelligence and green energy, along with investment deals in areas like robotics, electric vehicles and satellite launches.

London admits that it is not sure how to win a post-Brexit trade deal with Modi's government, which wants more visas for Indians to work or study in the UK.

India has refused openly to condemn the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine, reliant on Russian imports of energy, agricultural goods and military hardware.

India and Russia have historically had very different relationships, perhaps more than Russia and the UK have had over the last couple of decades, Johnson said.

We have to reflect that reality, but clearly I'm talking about it to Narendra Modi. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss came away empty-handed from New Delhi last month when she pressed the Indians to do more against Russia, and Modi has also given short shrift to appeals from US President Joe Biden.

Johnson will be talking about the benefits of India moving more quickly towards renewables, a strategic issue as countries try to pivot away from Russian energy.

Both of our countries are heavily reliant on foreign hydrocarbons. Johnson said that we need to move away from that together.

One of the things we're talking about is how we can reduce the cost of energy with green technology by building partnerships on hydrogen, electric vehicles, offshore wind, and on all the ways that we can reduce the cost of energy for people with green technology. The UK also has a large Sikh community, and its leaders have been demanding that Johnson raise the case of Scotsman Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained without trial in India for more than four years.