LONDON (Reuters) – British foreign minister Liz Truss will visit India on Thursday as part of a “wider diplomatic push” on the war in Ukraine, her office said, a trip which coincides with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov travelling to the country.
India has frustrated Western allies by refusing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and by buying Russian commodities at a discount. Britain’s foreign ministry said Truss would underline the “importance of democracies working together to deter aggressors”, and that she wanted a closer relationship with India to boost security and jobs in both countries. “This matters even more in the context of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and underlines the need for free democracies to work closer together in areas like defence, trade and cyber security,” Truss said in a statement.
India’s foreign ministry said Lavrov would also visit India on Thursday, adding Indian officials would hold talks with diplomats from the United States and Britain beforehand. It wasn’t immediately known whether Truss and Lavrov would meet while in India. Ukraine has said it is not naive about peace talks with Russia. While Britain has also questioned the Kremlin’s sincerity, it has indicated that it will support talks however Ukraine wishes.
The war in Ukraine has strained relations between Britain and India, which became one of the biggest buyers of Russian commodities after the international community began isolating Moscow with sanctions for the attack on Ukraine. Britain’s trade minister this month said the government was disappointed with India’s stance on the invasion, and that she hoped India’s views would change. Britain and India are currently in negotiations over a free trade deal.
The foreign ministry said Britain and India would announce a new joint cyber security programme and closer maritime co-operation in the Indo-Pacific as part of the trip.