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Monday, December 09, 2019

Narendra Modi, Boris Johnson discuss ways to strengthen trade, security ties

The meeting took place five days after the phone conversation between Modi and Johnson, where Modi drew attention to the “challenges posed by vested interests pursuing their motivated agenda, including by violent means”.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | Biarritz (france) | Updated: August 26, 2019 4:55:01 am
boris johnson, boris johnson on kashmir issue, Narendra Modi boris johnson meeting, G7 Summit, Modi at G7 Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his British counterpart Boris Johnson at a bilateral meeting in Biarritz Sunday. (Reuters)

Five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson spoke over the phone and discussed the situation in Kashmir, the two leaders met here on Sunday.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar described it as a “good meeting”, and tweeted, “Discussions focused on strengthening bilateral ties going forward, in trade & investment, defence & security, science & technology and education sectors”. “Connected histories, common future,” he said. Prime Minister Modi tweeted, “The two leaders are discussing ways to strengthen India-UK cooperation.”

There was no mention of Kashmir in India’s readout and there was no readout from the British side.

Modi, who was meeting Johnson for the first time since he became the British Prime Minister a month ago, began by congratulating Johnson on England’s win in the Third Test of the Ashes a short while ago.

The meeting took place five days after the phone conversation between Modi and Johnson, where Modi drew attention to the “challenges posed by vested interests pursuing their motivated agenda, including by violent means”. In this context, he referred to the violence and vandalism perpetrated by a mob outside the High Commission of India in London on Independence Day. The British Prime Minister “regretted the incident” and assured that all necessary steps would be taken to ensure safety and security of the High Commission, its personnel and visitors, a PMO statement had said.

The Downing Street spokesperson had said that the two leaders discussed the current situation in Kashmir during the telephonic conversation. “The Prime Minister made clear that the UK views the issue of Kashmir is one for India and Pakistan to resolve bilaterally. He underlined the importance of resolving issues through dialogue,” the Downing Street spokesperson had said.

On Sunday morning, closely watched by French and British security officials, Johnson went for a swim to a distant rock and back. In the evening, before heading out for dinner, he went to the Sofitel hotel where Prime Minister Modi was staying and held a meeting. Earlier in the morning, he met US President Donald Trump for breakfast. UK has come under scrutiny over reports that it had taken Pakistan’s side at UNSC consultations on Kashmir on August 16 — a charge London has denied.

The UK on Friday denied that it had backed Pakistan and China in calling for the closed-door session on Kashmir and stressed that all issues between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally.

In a statement by the British High Commission in Delhi, the UK also said it does not seek to mediate in the matter.

Late on Sunday night, MEA spokesperson Kumar tweeted that Modi met United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. “Good exchange of views on India’s participation at the Climate Action Summit at the UN and other issues of mutual interest,” the spokesperson tweeted.

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