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Boris Johnson has ordered British negotiators to push for a trade deal with India “by Diwali in October”, but he steered clear of the vexed issue of Ukraine after talks with his counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Johnson, dogged by political problems at home, hopes that talk of more trade and greater co-operation with the world’s biggest democracy will show he is focused on the bigger picture. He called Modi “khaas dost”, or “special friend”, and did not risk jeopardising that relationship by openly criticising India for failing to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s foreign secretary, told journalists there was “no pressure” on Modi from Johnson over Ukraine. In a public statement after talks with Modi in the Indian capital, Johnson only alluded to the conflict without mentioning Russia, saying that “threats of autocratic coercion have grown even greater”.