Boris Johnson says India visit to focus on jobs, growth

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Boris Johnson says India visit to focus on jobs, growth

Boris Johnson has said that his long-awaited visit to India this week will focus on the things that really matter to the people of both countries, primarily jobs and growth.

The war that has not resulted in India loosening its links with Russia hasn't been mentioned by the advance government briefing on the visit, although Tory MPs have been talking about Johnson's role as leader of the international pro-Ukraine coalition.

India abstained last month in the United Nations vote condemning the Russian invasion, and the two countries continue to trade with each other.

Johnson said on Sunday: As we face threats to our peace and prosperity from autocratic states, it is important that democracies and friends stick together. India, as a major economic power and the world's largest democracy, is a highly valued strategic partner for the UK in these uncertain times.

My visit to India will deliver on the things that matter to the people of both countries, from job creation and economic growth to energy security and defence. Johnson was originally due to visit India in January last year, but that trip was cancelled due to the second wave of the coronaviruses that swept the UK, propelled by the Alpha variant.

No 10 tried to reschedule the visit to last April, but that flight was cancelled at relatively short notice after India was struck by its own Covid emergency, triggered by the Delta variant. Johnson was reluctant to postpone, and there were allegations that the government delayed putting India on its travel red list for a longer time than it should have, because Johnson did not want to jeopardise the visit.

His visit will start on Thursday in Gujarat. No 10 said this would be the first time a British prime minister has visited the state, which is an ancestral home to about half of the British-Indian population in the UK.

Johnson will be in New Delhi on Friday for talks with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. Their meeting will cover the UK-India free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated, which is said to boost trade between the two countries by 28 billion bn by the year 2035, as well as the defence partnership.

The UK s integrated defence and security review last year identified ties with India as a priority relationship, as part of the UK's tilt towards the Indo-Pacific.

Johnson is expected to announce new investment deals as well as collaborations covering science, health and technology.