Sun, 28 Nov 2021

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], October 23 (ANI): HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier-led Carrier Strike Group's major port stop in Mumbai is the UK's Indo-Pacific tilt in action, said British foreign secretary Liz Truss on Saturday during her visit to India.

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.

"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. 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," Liz Truss said in a statement.

"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," she said.

"This is a true symbol of Global Britain, working closely with like-minded partners like India," Truss added.

According to the British government statement, the ship is the spearhead of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG), a symbol of the UK's world-leading defence capability, whose visit to Mumbai is a clear sign of Britain's growing defence and maritime co-operation with India. 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.

During her visit here in Mumbai, the foreign secretary is scheduled to progress talks to ramp up defence and security ties and boost strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. The visit will take forward joint work agreed by the British Prime Minister and Indian Prime Minister Modi in the landmark 2030 Roadmap on maritime security, cyber security and counter-terrorism signed earlier this year, the statement said.

She will also discuss developing innovative security and defence tech with the Indian government to tackle common threats and will talk through strengthening defence-related trade between the two countries.

The Foreign Secretary wanted to strengthen such links with fast-growing economies and like-minded partners in the region and build "a network of liberty" around the globe. The Foreign Secretary sees India as essential in ensuring a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

She will join Queen Elizabeth Carrier at sea to tour the vessel and observe live exercises involving UK and US F35B fighter jets, as per the statement.

Chief of Defence Staff Sir Nick Carter is also visiting Mumbai to see the Carrier Strike Group in action. He joined his Indian counterpart General Bipin Rawat in Delhi to discuss regional security and laid a commemorative wreath at the National War Museum.

In the statement, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "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."The Foreign Secretary will also visit the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai today to lay a wreath at the memorial for those killed in the 2008 terrorist attacks.

In the evening today, Truss is scheduled to welcome senior business leaders and guests from the world of education, film, sport and politics onto HMS Defender, a Type 45 Destroyer, where the UK will showcase its world-leading tech and innovation in defence, healthcare, science and climate. (ANI)

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