Modi, Johnson call for cessation of hostilities in Ukraine; free and rules-based Indo-Pacific
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine and a peaceful resolution of the conflict even as they underlined their shared vision of an open, free, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region in which countries are free from military, economic and political coercion.
A joint statement issued at the end of talks between them said the two leaders expressed in strongest terms their concern about the ongoing conflict and humanitarian situation in Ukraine. They unequivocally condemned civilian deaths and reiterated the need for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, which was having severe implications across the globe, in particular for developing countries.
Both Modi and Johnson emphasised that the contemporary global order has been built on the UN Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. They reaffirmed their willingness to provide humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine.
Briefing reporters on the talks between the two PMs, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the two leaders set a target to conclude the majority of talks on a comprehensive and balanced Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by the end of October 2022 and reaffirmed their commitment to transform defence and security cooperation as a key pillar of the bilateral strategic partnership. The two countries also signed six accords in various fields.
In his remarks at a brief media interaction, Modi welcomed the UK’s support for “self-reliant India” in all areas, manufacturing, technology, design and development in the defence sector.
He said he had discussed with PM Johnson many developments taking place at the regional and global level. ”We emphasised on maintaining the Indo-Pacific region based on a free, open, inclusive and rules-based order. India welcomes the UK’s decision to join the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative,” the Indian leader added.
On his part, Johnson described the partnership between India and the UK as ”one of the defining friendships of our times”. Calling Modi his “khas dost” (dear friend), he said the FTA between the two countries could be inked by Diwali this year. “As the next round of talks begins here next week, we’re telling our negotiators to get it done by Diwali…. this could double our trade and investment by the end of the decade,” he said.
Asked if the Indian side sought the extradition of Indian economic offenders who have taken refuge in the UK and also raised the issue of the activities of pro-Khalistan elements, the foreign secretary said Modi did raise these matters during the talks with Johnson. The British leader said he was very sensitive to India’s concerns and would seriously look into the issues.
The two countries also called upon all countries to work together to root out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupt terrorist networks and their financing channels, and halt cross-border movement of terrorists. They reiterated their condemnation of terrorist attacks in India and the UK, including the Mumbai and Pathankot attacks.
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