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UK PM Rishi Sunak holds talks with Indian Defence Minister

Picture by Rory Arnold / No 10 Downing Street
Picture by Rory Arnold / No 10 Downing Street

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on a historic visit to the UK this week, called upon Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary David Cameron as part of a hectic two-day schedule.

Earlier, the minister co-chaired a UK-India Defence Industry CEOs Roundtable with his UK counterpart, Grant Shapps, in London. The roundtable was attended by several chief executives from the UK defence industry, UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials, the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) India representatives. Some of the major defence companies represented at the interaction included BAE Systems, GE Vernova, James Fisher Defence, Leonardo SpA, Martin Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, SAAB UK, Thales UK, Ultra-Maritime Rolls-Royce, ADS Group, and MBDA UK.

The meeting was also attended by UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement James Cartildge and included thematic discussions on strengthening the UK-India defence industrial relationship. According to the Indian Ministry of Defence, Minister Singh welcomed the investment and technology collaboration from the UK and stated that India is ready with skilled human resource base, a robust pro-FDI and pro-business ecosystem, and a huge domestic market. Singh asserted that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is surging ahead on the path of becoming a developed economy by 2047.

Shapps said: “There is absolutely no question that the world is becoming increasingly contested, so it’s vital that we continue to build on our strategic relationships with key partners like India.

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“Together we share the same security challenges and are steadfast on our commitment to maintaining a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific. It is clear that this relationship is going from strength-to-strength, but we must continue to work hand-in-hand to uphold global security in light of threats and challenges that seek to destabilise and damage us.” 

He announced UK government plans to deploy Royal Navy warships to the Indian Ocean region later this year to operate and train with Indian forces, signalling what it described as the growing importance of the strategic relationship between India and the UK.

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The Littoral Response Group (LRG) will be deployed later in 2024 and the Carrier Strike Group (CRG) in 2025 for joint UK-India training. The deployment of the UK’s “most advanced naval capabilities” has been flagged by the MoD as a “decisive step” in bolstering UK-India security ties.

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