British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who arrived in India today, will discuss the Ukraine issue with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during their meeting tomorrow but will not ‘lecture’ India on how to go about its ties with Russia. On a two-day India visit, the prime minister is expected also to keep a sharp focus on the Indo-Pacific region during his dialogues in India.
When asked whether Johnson would raise India’s purchase of discounted Russian oil and India’s voting pattern at the UN, a 10 Downing Street spokesperson said, “This visit is not framed on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Obviously that is really important, but this is a visit that we have planned for a long time. India is an incredibly important partner. The prime minister has been wanting to make this trip to build our partnership across trade, investment, security and defence and green energy, so we will be discussing all those issues.”
Whereas the spokeswoman said, “You can absolutely expect it (Ukraine) to be on the agenda,” she maintained, “We won’t be seeking to lecture India or try and persuade them into one position or another. We will be seeking to work with them constructively as an important international partner.”
An Indian source in New Delhi said, “Like foreign secretary Elizabeth Truss when she was here, Johnson will not look to lecture India on Ukraine. An open Indo-Pacific that’s free from coercion will be central to his conversations here.”
This is Johnson’s first major trip to India as prime minister after his previous visits were postponed due to COVID-19.
The British prime minister said yesterday that his long-delayed visit to India would deepen the strategic trade, defence and people-to-people ties between the two countries.
Earlier, addressing the House of Commons for his weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), Johnson had said the trip to Ahmedabad and New Delhi would build on the invitation to India as a guest country for the G7 Summit hosted by the UK in Cornwall in June last year.
“I will be travelling to India to deepen the strategic trade, defence and people- to-people ties between our two countries, building on India’s involvement in the Carbis Bay G7 summit,” Johnson told members of the British parliament.
“I will be seeing Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi in Delhi, meeting Indian business people investing in the UK and visiting British investments in India,” Johnson had said.
Prime Minister Modi had addressed the G7 summit at Carbis Bay virtually as his travel plans were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The two leaders met in person later in the year, when Modi travelled to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit in November. This followed Johnson’s planned visits to India in 2021 being cancelled twice due to the pandemic situation in either country.