• Friday, December 02, 2022

INDIA

India foreign secretary lauds progress on UK-India roadmap

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell – Pool/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

The UK-India dialogue on the roadmap towards accelerated talks between the two countries on a free trade agreement (FTA), with an interim agreement factored in, is “going well” and will see “good progress” in the coming months, Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Saturday (24) said.

Shringla, who was on a two-day visit to the UK starting Friday (23) to take stock of the Roadmap 2030 agreed between Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson in May, said he had a range of meetings with UK interlocutors on the full spectrum of issues and does not seen any roadblocks.

Johnson might visit India around September while Modi is likely to visit the UK for the COP26 climate summit in November. Shringla’s visit ahead of those high-profile visits is considered to be a move to keep up the “intensive agreement”.

“There are several aspects to the roadmap, including the trade and investment aspect, where the Enhanced Trade Partnership envisages accelerated talks that can lead up to a comprehensive free trade agreement. The possibility of an interim agreement is also factored into that,” the foreign secretary told reporters.

“Both sides agree those talks are going well. We will see some good progress in that regard,” he said.

When asked about any roadblocks in the way of Roadmap 2030 for closer ties between India and the UK, Shringla said, “While here, we reviewed the entire range of issues and we didn’t find anything which is insurmountable. Most of it is what we can do to continue to maintain the momentum.

The relationship is important enough for us to ensure there is focus at high levels, in both capitals.”

The Indian high commissioner to the UK, Gaitri Issar Kumar, said the Indian mission in London remains “very, very alert” to any roadblocks and have been engaging daily to ensure progress in dialogues at all levels.

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