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Narendra Modi, Theresa May discuss chemical attacks in Syria, UK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Theresa May hold talks on redefining and infusing new energy into ties post-Brexit. They are also expected to sign several agreements, including on the return of illegal immigrants.

india Updated: Apr 18, 2018 20:54 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Press Trust of India, London
Modi in UK,Narendra Modi in London,Modi in London
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with British Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street in London on Wednesday. (PTI)

Prime Minister Theresa May and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday discussed recent chemical attacks in Syria and Britain, with the UK leader reiterating her government’s position on what she described as Russia’s “recent destabilising behaviour”.

A Downing Street spokesperson said after their breakfast meeting that both expressed concern and made clear their opposition to the use of chemical weapons by any party in any circumstances. Britain has blamed Russia for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury in March, setting off a row between the West and Moscow.

“The Prime Minister (May) reiterated the UK’s position on Russia’s recent destabilising behaviour, underlined by the attack in Salisbury and the protection provided for the Syrian regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons against its people,” the spokesperson said.

The meeting lasting more than one hour covered a range of issues, including Brexit and the shared priorities of the two countries in the Indo-Pacific, with the two sides committing themselves to working more closely to ensure the region remains free and open.

“The Prime Minister updated Prime Minister Modi on the progress of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, saying the implementation period agreed in March gives Indian companies and investors the confidence that market access will continue on current terms until the end of 2020,” the spokesperson said.

“She reiterated that the UK will remain committed to global free trade and investment and that the UK will remain a leading hub for global finance. Prime Minister Modi said there would be no dilution in the importance of the UK to India post-Brexit. He said the City of London was of great importance to India for accessing the global markets and would remain so.”

The interaction included discussions on the progress in bilateral defence and security cooperation since May’s visit to India in 2016, and the agreement on a number of Defence Capability Partnerships in key strategic areas, with closer military-to-military ties.

The leaders agreed to continue working together closely to combat terrorism, radicalisation and online extremism, officials said.

The two countries, in a joint statement, said they share a global outlook and commitment to a rules-based international system that strongly opposes unilateral actions that seek to undermine that system through force or coercion.

The joint statement said, “A secure, free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific is in the interests of India, the UK and the international community.”

Modi and May also welcomed the commercial deals worth £1 billion agreed on Wednesday and decided to build on the recommendations of the UK-India Joint Trade Review to reduce barriers to trade, to make it easier to do business in both countries and to enable a stronger bilateral trade relationship for the future.

“Looking to the future, the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi discussed the new UK-India Tech Partnership agreed today which will create thousands of jobs and generate significant investment in both our economies. The Prime Minister said the partnership will be at the core of much that we’ll do together over the next decade,” the spokesperson said.

First Published: Apr 18, 2018 16:28 IST