Modi to Attend G7 Summit in London

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stressed the priority that the UK government’s attaches to elevating relations with India, based on “shared values and interests and the potential to address common global challenges together”…reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday accepted the invitation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be part of the G7 meeting chaired by the UK in 2021, seeking to build a wider alliance against China’s growing power.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab handed over a letter from Johnson, inviting the Prime Minister to the G7 meeting.

Modi thanked Raab and accepted the invitation, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) confirmed in a statement on Wednesday.

The development comes after Johnson’s office earlier announced that it had extended the offer to Indian, South Korean and Australian leaders to take part in the G7 meeting, “delivering the Prime Minister’s ambition to work with a group of like-minded democracies to advance shared interests and tackle common challenges”.

Recalling his recent telephone conversation with British PM, Modi stressed the importance of the India-UK partnership in the post-Covid world.

He called for an ambitious and outcome-oriented 360-degree roadmap covering trade and investment, defence and security, migration and mobility, education, energy, climate change and health, in order to tap the full potential of the bilateral relationship.

Modi also conveyed his keenness to receive Johnson in New Delhi next month, on the occasion of India’s 72nd Republic Day celebrations. During his visit, Johnson will be just the second British leader since Indian independence to attend India’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi as a guest of honour, after John Major in 1993.

Despite conveying greetings of Johnson to Modi, the British Foreign Secretary thanked him for participating in the recently held Climate Ambition Summit co-hosted by the UK.

Raab also stressed the priority that the UK government’s attaches to elevating relations with India, based on “shared values and interests and the potential to address common global challenges together”.

Britain’s relationship with China has slid to its most confrontational levels in a generation, chiefly because of the national security law Beijing has imposed in Hong Kong and London’s decision to ban 5G network services by Huawei Technologies, which it contends is closely linked to the Chinese government.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Increasing concerns over China’s assertive moves in the Indo-Pacific have also resulted in greater diplomatic efforts in the region by the US, Britain and the European Union – with India, Australia and the 10-nation Asean group at the forefront of their focus.

India on Tuesday said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s presence at the Republic Day celebrations next month will be “symbolic of a new era”.

This will be Johnson’s first major foreign visit since he took charge last year. In a statement, he said that he is “absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to delivering the quantum leap in our bilateral relationship that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and I have pledged to achieve.”

India’s foreign minister S. Jaishankar said the British Prime Minister’s presence at the Republic Day celebrations “would be in a way symbolic of a new era, and a new phase of India-UK ties.”

It is after a gap of 27 years that a UK Prime Minister will be the chief guest at India’s 70th Republic Day next month. John Major was the last British Prime Minister to attend the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in 1993.

The invitation from Modi is tactical and timely as the transition period for Brexit ends on December 31 and it’s almost certain that the UK will go for a ‘hard Brexit’ – a clean break from Europe which will entail Britain giving up membership of the EU’s single market, allowing it to to trade freely with EU members without restrictions.

The hard Brexit is likely to disrupt UK’s economy, which even after four years of the Brexit vote, is for most practical purposes still functioning as part of the EU. To reduce the adverse effects of the economic disruption, the UK has been looking for trading opportunities elsewhere.

Prime Minister Johnson has offered a free trade agreement with India, given its huge market. Johnson’s visit to New Delhi next month will be significant for trade negotiations between the two countries.