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Boris Johnson Says Britain Wants Free Trade Deal with India

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley greets British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in New Delhi, India, Jan. 18, 2017.

Visiting British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Wednesday that his country would like to forge a free trade agreement with India as it prepares to leave the European Union.

Johnson said a free trade deal would benefit both countries. He was talking to reporters after arriving in New Delhi for a two-day visit.

He said British Prime Minister Theresa May set out a powerful vision in a speech Tuesday of how Britain can negotiate trade deals with all nations, benefiting not only friends in the European Union but also driving growth in the rest of the world.

Johnson is the first British Cabinet minister to travel to India since May visited last November. He was scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later Wednesday.

Trade between the two countries totaled $19.7 billion (>16 billion) last year, he said.

During May's visit to India in November, the two countries signed agreements on protection of intellectual property rights and on ease of doing business. Among the Group of Twenty countries, Britain is the largest investor in India.

On Thursday, Johnson is to visit the eastern Indian city of Kolkata where he will meet representatives of the cricket authority and attend a debate competition featuring teams from Cambridge University and the London School of Economics.