India and the U.K. signed two agreements during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to London on 9th January. The first is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a bilateral international cadet exchange program. The second is a Letter of Arrangement (LoA) focusing on defence collaboration in Research and Development. These agreements were formalised following discussions between Minister Rajnath Singh and his British counterpart, Grant Shapps.
The statement from the Defence Ministry indicated that both Ministers engaged in discussions encompassing defence, security, and cooperation matters, focusing on elevating defence-industrial collaboration. According to the statement, Grant Shapps emphasized that the relationship between the UK and India is not transactional; instead, both nations are seen as natural partners with numerous commonalities and shared goals.
“Had a productive meeting with U.K. Defence Minister Grant Shapps. We thoroughly assessed the entirety of India-UK defence relations. Our discussions were fruitful, covering a wide spectrum of issues related to defence cooperation, security, and the enhancement of defence industrial collaboration,” Singh shared on the Twitter platform.
The Ministry highlighted the significance of the Letter of Arrangement (LoA) on R&D, which was executed between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) to foster a broader scope of collaboration in defence research between the two nations.
Rajnath Singh is currently on a two-day visit to the United Kingdom, marking the first visit by an Indian Defence Minister in over two decades. The last such visit was made by George Fernandes in 2002. Despite several attempts in recent years, official visits by Singh to the UK did not materialise due to scheduling and other logistical issues.
Arriving in London on Monday night for a three-day visit, Singh is accompanied by a Ministry of Defence delegation, including the Chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), senior officers from Service Headquarters, Department of Defence, and Department of Defence Production. In addition to his discussions with Shapps, Singh is expected to meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and hold a meeting with Foreign Secretary David Cameron.
Later in the day, the Defence Minister will engage with leaders from the defence industry during a roundtable event. Subsequently, he will also meet with representatives of the Indian community at a reception hosted by the High Commission of India in London.