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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh sets off to UK to discuss defence, security issues

India's Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will embark on a two-day visit to the United Kingdom on January 8, 2024 and will discuss bilateral issues with his counterpart Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in an official press release on Sunday.

The Defence Minister would be accompanied by a high-level Ministry of Defence delegation, comprising senior officials from DRDO, Service Headquarters, the Department of Defence, and the Department of Defence Production.

As per the Ministry, both leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of defence, security and industrial cooperation issues.

Singh is also expected to call on UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and hold a meeting with Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs David Cameron. He will also interact with the CEOs and industry leaders of the UK defence industry and meet with the Indian community there.

Earlier in November, Singh held a telephonic conversation with his British counterpart Shapps and discussed means to bolster closer defence relations as well as the security issues in the Indo-Pacific region.

According to the Defence Ministry, both ministers discussed a range of defence and security issues, with particular emphasis on the Indo-Pacific. They briefly reviewed the ongoing engagements and discussed possible cooperation in new domains.

The two leaders explored ways and means to develop closer defence relations. Shapps also invited Singh to visit the UK in the near future.

Singh also congratulated Shapps on his appointment as Secretary of State for Defence. Shapps was appointed as the new Defence Secretary of United Kingdom in August, after Ben Wallace resigned from his position.

Notably, India and the UK are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Talks for FTA between India and the UK started in 2022 and the 12th round of negotiations took place from August 8-31 this year.

The India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was launched in 2021 along with the India-UK Roadmap 2030, according to the Ministry of External Affairs. The Roadmap is a commitment to a partnership that delivers for both countries.

(ANI)

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