‘India-U.K. ties vital in coming decades’

British Foreign Secretary on India trip

October 23, 2021 02:44 am | Updated 02:47 am IST - NEW DELHI

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss during their meeting, in New Delhi on October 22, 2021. Photo: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar via PTI

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss during their meeting, in New Delhi on October 22, 2021. Photo: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar via PTI

Relation between the United Kingdom and India is vital over the coming decades, U.K. Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss said here on Friday. Ms. Truss who is on a three-day visit to India met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and is scheduled to be a special guest at a ceremony to mark the visit of the U.K. Carrier Strike Group in Mumbai.

“India is our great friend, an economic powerhouse and the world’s largest democracy. Our relationship will be vital over the coming decades,” said Ms. Truss after meeting Mr. Jaishankar where the two discussed closer collaboration. Ms. Truss said her visit will boost the partnership and pointed out technology and infrastructure, security and defence, and “building back after COVID” as the areas of collaboration between the two sides.

“You are a fellow democracy, you believe in free enterprise and you believe in freedom. I think it's very important that countries like ours work together on our shared plans for the future,” said Ms. Truss in her opening remarks in the meeting with Mr. Jaishankar.

Ms. Truss and Mr. Jaishankar “welcomed the progress in delivering the Enhanced Trade Partnership” that was announced at the India-U.K. virtual summit held on May 4, said the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement after Friday’s meeting. Both ministers agreed on the need for launching FTA negotiations “at the earliest, with a focus on negotiating an interim agreement that can deliver quick gains to businesses in both India and the U.K.”.

Ms. Truss’ visit comes in the backdrop of developments in Afghanistan after the departure of the U.S. and U.K. troops. There is a vocal section within the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson that believes that the people of Afghanistan should not made to suffer while the world waits on the Taliban build an inclusive government in Kabul. "On Afghanistan, the need for full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance was discussed as also the need for Afghan territory not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or to finance terrorist attacks," declared the press release issued by the MEA after the two ministers met.

The visit provides an opportunity to both sides to lay the ground for the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Glasgow to attend the global climate summit.

The Hindu reported earlier that PM Modi will travel to Glasgow on October 31. The COP26 summit has already drawn considerable attention as it will help create a blueprint of global climate action. The summit has also revealed deep divisions in the global community as Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are not expected to attend it.

The visit also marks a renewed focus of the U.K. on the Indo-Pacific region which is expected to receive greater maritime attention of London in the coming years.

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