British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, India, April 22, 2022. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain

Britain and India aim for a free trade deal by October, says the UK prime minister.

Iran PressAsia: Britain and India agreed on Friday to step up military and business cooperation during a visit to New Delhi by Boris Johnson, who said a bilateral free-trade deal could be wrapped up by October.

On his first visit to the Indian capital as UK prime minister, Johnson discussed with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi ways to boost security ties with India, which buys more than half of its military hardware from Russia.

India’s foreign secretary, however, said Johnson did not put pressure on Modi over New Delhi’s position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“Prime Minister Johnson shared his perspective on it, Prime Minister Modi shared ours - which is that the Russia-Ukraine war should end immediately,” Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters. “There was no pressure of any kind.”

India abstained from a United Nations vote condemning the Russian “special military operation” in Ukraine and, unlike Britain and other Western nations, has not imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Johnson said after meeting Modi it was unlikely India would end its long-standing ties with Russia.

“The position on Russia that the Indians have historically is well known. They are not going to change that, of course, that’s true,” he told a press conference on the final day of his two-day trip.

Johnson, who is under political pressure at home for breaking his own lockdown rules during the pandemic, said negotiators from the two countries were expected to complete a free-trade deal by the end of this year.

The Indian government last year gave a 480-billion-rupee ($6.28 billion) contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for 83 light-combat aircraft, Tejas, for delivery starting around 2023.


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