Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Holds Meeting with UK Counterpart, Reviews India-UK Defence Relations

Indian Army

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London: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on January 9 held a bilateral meeting with his UK counterpart Grant Shapps and discussed defence cooperation, security and enhancing defence industrial cooperation.

The two leaders also reviewed the full range of India-UK defence relations.

“Had an excellent meeting with UK Defence Minister, Mr. Grant Shapps. We reviewed the full range of India-UK defence relations. We had fruitful discussions on a wide range of issues pertaining to defence cooperation, security and also on enhancing defence industrial cooperation,” Singh wrote on X.

During the meeting, Shapps stressed that the India-UK relationship is not transactional, instead both countries are natural partners with many commonalities and shared goals. Singh, meanwhile, noted with appreciation the growing strategic convergence between the two countries, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.

The bilateral defence meeting was followed by the signing of two agreements between India and the UK, an MoU on the conduct of bilateral international cadet exchange programme, and a Letter of Arrangement between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on defence collaboration in research and development, as per a release issued by the Defence Ministry.

These documents will provide impetus to the people-to-people exchanges particularly among the youth, and larger area of defence research collaboration between the two countries.

Earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was given full ceremonial Guard of Honour at the Horse Guards Parade grounds in London. There was a special parade by the British Army’s Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards and the Band of the Irish Guards. The regiments represented on parade are among the most historic in the British Army. Ceremonial welcomes of this nature are considered special and memorable moments of high honour from one nation to another.

Singh also paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his statue in Tavistock, London.

On  January 10, Rajnath Singh will be meeting UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs David Cameron. The minister will also participate in a community reception in the UK.

Singh arrived in the UK on January 8 night. Notably, this marks the first visit of a Indian Defence Minister to the UK in 23 years. The Defence Minister is being 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.

During his visit, Singh, will also interact with the CEOs and industry leaders of the UK defence industry and meet with the Indian community there. 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.