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PM Modi speaks to Boris Johnson on COVID-19 vaccines, trade and security

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New Delhi/London, Nov 27: Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Friday on key bilateral, regional and international issues, as the two leaders agreed to work towards a "quantum leap" in cooperation between India and the UK in all areas, including trade and investment, defence and security, and fighting COVID-19.

Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson

They exchanged views on the challenges posed by the pandemic, and reviewed the promising cooperation between India and the UK in the area of vaccine development and manufacturing, the Prime Minister''s Office (PMO) said.

The leaders agreed that officials from both sides would continue their work to quickly finalise an ambitious long-term roadmap for the India-UK partnership, it said.

"Had an excellent discussion with my friend, UK PM Boris Johnson on an ambitious roadmap for India-UK ties in the next decade. We agreed to work towards a quantum leap in our cooperation in all areas - trade and investment, defence & security, climate change, and fighting Covid-19," Modi tweeted.

Modi and Johnson agreed that there was tremendous potential for enhancing collaboration in trade and investment, scientific research, mobility of professionals and students, and defence and security partnership in the post-COVID, post-Brexit era, the statement added.

In London, Downing Street said Johnson reiterated the year 2021 as an important one for UK-India ties and also re-emphasised the UK''s commitment to the wider Indo-Pacific region, ahead of the first deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier group to the region next year.

The leaders discussed the work the UK and India are doing together across trade, climate change, defence, security and health with Johnson asserting that 2021 would be a year to deepen and strengthen the UK-India relationship, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

"The Prime Minister (Johnson) and Prime Minister Modi discussed joint efforts to find treatments and vaccines for coronavirus, and welcomed the collaboration between our countries'' leading scientists. They looked forward to next month''s Climate Ambition Summit, which will be an opportunity to reinvigorate the global efforts against climate change ahead of the UK-hosted COP26 Summit next year," the spokesperson said.

The UK is set to host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow next year after the summit was postponed from its planned schedule this month due to the coronavirus pandemic and its worldwide lockdown impact.

The UK and India have, meanwhile, held a series of virtual dialogues during the course of the year, including the 10th UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) held at the end of October.

Prime Minister (Johnson) stressed the importance of improving bilateral trade and investment flows and the two leaders welcomed the extensive work that has taken place on this to date and shared an ambition for deepening the economic relationship, the Downing Street spokesperson said.

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    The PMO statement also said the two leaders laid particular emphasis on India and the UK joining hands in the fight against climate change and appreciated their collaboration under platforms like the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, it said.

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