UK to forge stronger security and defence links with India as part of Indo-Pacific tilt

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier-led Carrier Strike Group's major port stop in Mumbai is the "UK's Indo-Pacific tilt in action", British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in India on Saturday

Oct 23, 2021
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UK's Indo-Pacific strategy

HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier-led Carrier Strike Group's major port stop in Mumbai is the "UK's Indo-Pacific tilt in action", British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in India on Saturday. The minister, who arrived in Mumbai from New Delhi, said that her visit is aimed at forging stronger security and defence links with India, the world's largest democracy, as a key part of the UK's Indo-Pacific strategy.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said that the minister sees India as "essential" in ensuring a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific. “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 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,” she said.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth ship is the spearhead of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which is dubbed a symbol of the UK's world-leading defence capability. Its visit to Mumbai this weekend is described by the FCDO as a clear sign of the UK's growing defence and maritime cooperation with India, PTI news agency stated. 

While in India, the CSG is taking part in the most "demanding exercise ever" undertaken between the UK and India, involving all three military services.

The UK's Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Nick Carter, is also in Mumbai to see the CSG in action.  The Carrier Strike Group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, is described as the largest concentration of maritime and air power to sail from the UK in a generation.

Earlier, he joined his Indian counterpart General Bipin Rawat in Delhi to discuss regional security.

“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 Minister Ben Wallace.

During her two-day India visit, which started in New Delhi on Friday, Truss' focus has been on enhancing innovative security and defence tech with the Indian government to tackle common threats and talk through strengthening defence-related trade between the two countries.

 The FCDO said the senior British cabinet minister wants to build “a network of liberty” around the globe and the visit is aimed at taking forward the joint work agreed in the Roadmap 2030 between Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi earlier this year, PTI said. 

India and UK have agreed on the need to ensure that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists.
This statement was issued after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held bilateral talks with the visiting UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss and discussed several issues including strengthening cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and countering terrorism and radical extremism.

"They agreed to strengthen cooperation in West Asia and the Indo-Pacific, on countering terrorism and radical extremism, and addressing emerging challenges in the cyber and space domains," a statement by India's Ministry of External Affairs said.

"On Afghanistan, the need for full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance was discussed, as also the need for Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist attacks," it added.

India and UK Roadmap 2030 aimed to elevate the India-UK relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) and this will also guide cooperation for the next 10 years covering all aspects of the two nations' multi-faceted relations.