Johnson, Modi condemn civilian deaths in Ukraine

Leaders reaffirm commitment to transforming defense, security cooperation as key pillar of India-UK strategic partnership.

Johnson, Modi condemn civilian deaths in Ukraine

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Friday condemned civilian casualties in Ukraine and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

The meeting between the two leaders in the capital New Delhi came on the final day of Johnson's two-day trip to the country.

Besides Ukraine, they talked about the situation in Afghanistan, free trade, and expanding defense cooperation.

In a joint statement after the meeting, issued by India's External Affairs Ministry, they reaffirmed their commitment to giving humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.

The UK, which is leading international efforts against Russia for its war on Ukraine, exerted no pressure on New Delhi to take a stand against Moscow, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told a press conference.

India has abstained from UN resolutions censuring Moscow over its "special military operation," and has increased its oil purchases from Russia, its biggest supplier of arms.

According to UN figures, the conflict has claimed the lives of at least 2,345 civilians and left 2,919 more injured since Feb. 24.

Defense, trade ties

Modi and Johnson reaffirmed their commitment to transforming bilateral defense and security cooperation as a key pillar of the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, as well as expanding engagements in support of a free, open, and secure Indo Pacific.

“The leaders noted the importance of robust defense industrial collaboration for manufacturing of defense equipment, systems, spare parts, components, aggregates and other related products and key capabilities, under the Make-in-India program through co-development, indigenization, transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures for meeting the needs of the Armed Forces of India and other countries,” the statement said.

They underlined cooperation in key areas of strategic collaboration, such as modern fighter aircraft and jet engine advanced core technology, it added.

The two leaders welcomed the launch of negotiations for a free trade agreement earlier this year, and noted the "good progress" in this regard.

In a tweet after the meeting, Johnson said "A Free Trade Agreement with India could double our trade and investment by the end of the decade. As the third round of talks begin next week, @NarendraModi and I are telling our negotiators: get it done by Diwali."

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, will be celebrated on Oct. 24.

Hüseyin Demir