British trade minister plays down deadline for India trade deal

Cabinet meeting at Number 10 Downing Street, in London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's trade minister Kemi Badenoch on Tuesday played down reports that there was a deadline for a trade deal with India approaching at the end of the year, saying that a deal was close and possible but declining to put a timeframe on it.

Asked if the deal would be agreed in the "coming months" following a report in the Sun newspaper that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wished to sign it during the Cricket World Cup in India in November, Badenoch said that Britain had never set a deadline and there was "very optimistic" briefing in newspapers.

"We've done quite a lot so it is close... the few bits left are always the toughest bits. So we are very close," Badenoch told lawmakers. "It is possible, but I wouldn't be setting that sort of deadline. We will finish when we finish."

(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Muvija M; editing by William James)