UK seeks closer defence co-operation in India and Indo-Pacific

Britain sees India as crucial to its tilt towards the region

A fighter jet prepares to land on the flight deck of UK Carrier Strike Group’s 'HMS Queen Elizabeth' in the Arabian Sea, off Mumbai. AFP
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UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is in India to forge stronger defence ties and bolster co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region.

The growing security and maritime co-operation was evidenced by the presence in Mumbai of the HMS Queen Elizabeth — the Royal Navy’s most powerful surface vessel at 65,000 tonnes — the UK government said.

The Queen Elizabeth leads the Carrier Strike Group, which is taking part in defence exercises with India. Chief of Defence Staff Sir Nick Carter is also in Mumbai to see the group.

“Closer defence and security partnerships between the UK and India underpin deeper economic ties and make both countries, as well as the wider region, safer,” said Ms Truss.

“We need to protect our sea and trade routes and, operating from a position of strength, be hard-headed in defending our interests and challenging unfair practices.

“The arrival of the Carrier Strike Group in India this weekend represents the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt in action. This is a true symbol of Global Britain, working closely with like-minded partners like India.”

Ms Truss will also discuss security technology and defence-related trade with the Indian government.

The UK government said she sees India as crucial in a prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

“A strengthened partnership with India is a key pillar of the UK’s tilt to the Indo-Pacific. Our Carrier Strike Group visit represents an important step towards our goal of establishing a maritime partnership with India in support of mutual security objectives in the Indian Ocean,” said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

The British government said Ms Truss “wants to strengthen such links with fast-growing economies and like-minded partners in the region and build 'a network of liberty' around the globe”.

This is part of a two-day visit by Ms Truss to India, where she has also urged leaders to commit to more ambitious goals for emission reduction.

Updated: October 22, 2021, 11:01 PM