India-UK agree to continue working to deepen cooperation

The 2nd India-UK Multilateral Dialogue on October 18, came just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson spoke on Monday, October 11…reports Asian Lite News.

India and the UK held a second multilateral dialogue on Monday, October 18, in London and agreed to work more closely and “deepen” the cooperation, said the Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday. While the Indian delegation was led by Prakash Gupta, Joint Secretary (UN Political), Ministry of External Affairs, the British side was led by Harriet Mathews CMB OBE, Deputy Political Director for UN, UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

MEA said in its official release that the UK side congratulated India over its successful presidency of the United Nations Security Council in August this year. Both countries exchanged views of mutual interest pertaining to the UN reforms, counterterrorism, peacekeeping and climate action. Other discussions also took place on the Commonwealth Strategic Plan and priorities. The UK and Indian delegation agreed to continue to work closely to further elevate the cooperation on multilateral issues.

The 2nd India-UK Multilateral Dialogue on October 18, came just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson spoke on Monday, October 11. In a tweet following the phone call, PM Modi informed that both leaders discussed the progress made on the India-UK Agenda 2030 while exchanging views on the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow. Johnson and PM Modi also discussed the situation in Afghanistan which is rocked by socio-economic crisis amid Taliban takeover.

India-UK to launch phase of high-level exchanges

With the arrival of the UK Carrier Strike Group on Thursday on the western coast, India-U.K. ties will gear up for a phase of high profile engagements.

The Strike Group led by HMS Queen Elizabeth is on a “non-provocative” exercise in the Indo-Pacific region in what is being interpreted as the biggest British naval deployment since the end of the Cold War. The phase of engagement, which begins on Thursday, will stretch into the COP26 summit for climate action in Glasgow in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to participate.

The UK Carrier Strike Group has traversed through the Philippine Sea to the Bay of Bengal and in the process has travelled through the sensitive South China Sea which is in the middle of an international dispute because of China’s claims over the strategically located water body.

On Thursday, it will participate in a bilateral exercise with the Navy named “Konkan Shakti”. It was learnt that the exercise will include a “spectacular event” on Saturday which will be attended by U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. She is expected to reach India on Friday for a three-day visit.

The exercise is part of the U.K.’s consistent practice of maritime exercises it has carried out with several countries like the U.S. and Japan in recent years.

Truss met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in New York on the sidelines of the General Assembly to resolve the problem over the U.K.’s non-recognition of the Covishield vaccine.

The UK subsequently lifted quarantine requirements for Indian travellers who are vaccinated with Covishield or any other UK-recognised vaccines. Truss’s visit coincides with a critical phase in South Asia in view of the large-scale human displacement and heightened risk of terrorism following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban.

Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific and climate action will draw high-level participation in the COP26 summit. But the high-point of the visit of the Foreign Secretary is likely to be the dialogue on bilateral trade with focus on finalising an “interim harvest deal”.

The UK under the Boris Johnson Government has been focused on enhanced trade partnership with India as a post-Brexit plan and the upcoming visit is likely to highlight the economic diplomacy. India and the UK have indicated that they are in favour of beginning talks for a trade agreement from November.

The COP26 summit will provide both sides an opportunity to join hands to deal with the threat of climate change. President-elect of COP26, British MP Alok Sharma, met Prime Minister Modi last month here and invited India to participate in the summit. Both sides are likely to declare a common vision of the world during the summit.

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