Rajnath holds talks with UK defence secretary with focus on Indo-Pacific
New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday held a telephonic conversation with his British counterpart Grant Shapps, focusing
on ways to develop deeper India-UK cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The defence ministry said Singh and Shapps briefly reviewed the ongoing bilateral defence engagements and discussed possible cooperation in new domains.
"Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a telephonic conversation with UK Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps on November 13. Both ministers discussed a range of defence and security issues with particular emphasis on the Indo-Pacific," it said. "They briefly reviewed the ongoing engagements and discussed possible cooperation in new domains," the ministry said in a statement.
Singh and Shapps explored ways and means to develop closer defence relations, it said. "Grant Shapps invited the defence minister to visit the UK in the near future. The defence minister congratulated Shapps on his appointment as the Secretary of State for Defence," it said. Shapps was appointed as the defence secretary in August, replacing Ben Wallace.
Later, in a post on 'X', Singh said he and Shapps discussed a range of defence and security related issues. "Had a telephonic conversation with the UK Secretary of State for Defence Mr Grant Shapps. We discussed a range of defence and security related issues with particular emphasis on the Indo-Pacific," he said.
The phone conversation between Singh and Shapps came amid the ongoing visit to the UK by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The India-UK relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the India-UK virtual summit held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his then British counterpart Boris Johnson in May 2021.
At the summit, the two sides adopted a 10-year roadmap to expand ties in the key areas of trade and economy, defence and security, climate change and people-to-people connections, among others. Last month, the first India-UK '2+2' foreign and defence dialogue had taken place that saw the two sides focusing on ways to boost cooperation in a range of key areas such as trade and investment, defence, critical technologies, civil aviation, health and energy.
At the senior official-level dialogue (2+2), the two sides also discussed international developments including in the Indo-Pacific region and considered the possibility of enhancing anti-terror collaboration.