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India's Modi, Britain's Sunak meet at G20, discuss ways to boost trade

(Reuters) -Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he met his British counterpart Rishi Sunak at the Group of 20 summit in Bali on Wednesday and discussed ways to boost trade between the two countries.

It was the first meeting between Modi and Sunak, who is of Indian origin, since he became British prime minister in October.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sunak's office said Britain was negotiating a trade deal with India, which if agreed would be the first of its kind New Delhi would have made with a European country.

"They looked forward to the agreement of a UK-India free trade deal, which has the potential to unlock investment and increase jobs in both our countries, as well as expanding our deep cultural links," Sunak's office said in a statement.

Modi said "robust ties" with the United Kingdom were of great importance to India.

"We discussed ways to increase commercial linkages, raise the scope of security cooperation in context of India's defence reforms and make people-to-people ties even stronger," Modi said on Twitter after the meeting.

The two-day summit on the Indonesian island was the first time G20 leaders met since Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a "special military operation".

After Indonesia, India will have the year-long G20 presidency, beginning on Dec. 1.

Modi also met Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, French President Emmanuel Macron and Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz, among other leaders at the summit on Wednesday.

During their meeting, Modi and Albanese reviewed progress made by the two countries in defence, trade, education and clean energy, India's foreign ministry said in a statement.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai, additional reporting by Alistair Smout in London; Editing by Alison Williams, Angus MacSwan, Tom Hogue and Tomasz Janowski)