Boris Johnson and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have agreed an ambitious framework for future co-operation over the coming decade, Downing Street has said.
Following a virtual meeting between the two leaders, No 10 said the “2030 road map” represented a “quantum leap” in the UK-India relationship.
Officials said that the wide-ranging document covered co-operation across health, climate change, education, science and technology, and defence.
It also includes a commitment to an “enhanced trade partnership” paving the way for a full free trade agreement aimed at doubling bilateral trade over the coming decade.
In a statement, Mr Johnson said: “The UK and India share many fundamental values. The UK is one of the oldest democracies, and India is the world’s largest.
“We are both committed members of the Commonwealth. And there is a living bridge uniting the people of our countries.
“In the last week the British people have stepped up in their thousands to support our Indian friends during this terrible time in a demonstration of the deep connection between the UK and India.
“This connection will only grow over the next decade as we do more together to tackle the world’s biggest problems and make life better for our people. The agreements we have made today mark the beginning of a new era in the UK-India relationship.”
At the same, the two countries have signed a further agreement allowing young professionals aged 18 to 30 to work and live in each other’s countries for up to two years.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said it would help attract the “best and brightest” to the UK while at the same time strengthening the processes for returning Indian nationals with no legal right to be in the country.
“This landmark agreement with our close partners in the government of India will provide new opportunities to thousands of young people in the UK and India seeking to live, work and experience each other’s cultures,” she said.
A free trade agreement with New Delhi is seen as a huge prize for the UK Government following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
Ahead of the talks, Mr Johnson announced £1 billion of new trade between the UK and India which he said would create more than 6,000 jobs.
A strategic “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific region was one of the key objectives set out in the Government’s recent Integrated Review of foreign and defence policy.
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group will visit India later this year as part of efforts to increase defence co-operation in the region.
The virtual meeting took place after Mr Johnson was forced to cancel a planned visit following the explosion in coronavirus cases which has overwhelmed India’s healthcare system.
The road map includes plans to expand UK-India health co-operation to enhance global health security and pandemic resilience.
This includes firming up international supply chains to ensure critical medicines, vaccines and other medical products reach those who need them most.