Did UK’s defence minister snub Nirmala Sitharaman?

Nirmala Sitharam

New Delhi, July 2: Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has trashed media report suggesting Britain’s defence minister Gavin Williamson has turned down her request for a bilateral meeting.

Expressing disappointment over a “baseless” media report in the UK, Sitharaman tweeted, “Disappointed, Sunday Times (UK). Baseless story, to say the least. The UK & India have a robust relationship. A mutually convenient date is being worked out for meeting & I look forward to it.”

The meeting was requested over a month ago by Indian officials, and at least two British ministers including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson reportedly sought to convince Williamson of the importance of finding time for Sitharaman.

Williamson responded to her tweet: “And I very much look forward to it too.”

The Sunday Times report claimed Williamson declined to meet Ms Sitharaman’s three-day window of bilateral talks on security cooperation and defence procurement between June 20 and 22.

The newspaper quoted a UK government source as saying that “People are spitting blood about this.”

“India ‘spitting blood’ as Gavin Williamson snubs defence chief,” said the Sunday Times headline.

 

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