The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly speaks during a Security Council meeting concerning the war in Ukraine at the United Nations headquarters on February 24, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
INDIA’S G20 presidency comes at an “incredibly important time” when the world confronts challenges like the Ukraine conflict, global food supply disruptions and China’s increasingly assertive actions on the world stage, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said.
He also announced that he will travel to New Delhi next week for the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting and engage with partners from across the globe.
India assumed the presidency of the G20 on December 1, last year.
“India is an incredibly important global player of increased, not only economic prosperity but diplomatic influence. We’re very very pleased with that. We’re very proud of the longstanding relationship the UK has of course with India,” Cleverly told PTI in an exclusive interview at the United Nations on Friday (24).
Cleverly, the UK’s secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, addressed the high-level UN Security Council debate on maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine’ on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“But this is an incredibly important year because we see not only conflict in Ukraine, we see global food supply disruptions, we see China’s increasingly assertive actions on the world stage. So India’s G20 Presidency comes at an incredibly important time,” Cleverly said.
He said that he wishes India complete success in its presidency, “making sure that we debate the whole range of issues facing the world, not just the ones that are perhaps in the headlines at the moment.”
Cleverly confirmed he will travel to India to participate in the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting to be held in New Delhi on March 1 and 2.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov are also headed to the Indian capital next week for the high-level meeting, coming just a week after the one-year anniversary of the Ukraine conflict.
“I will be joining the foreign ministers of the G20 next week. Of course, it is an opportunity for us in the UK to engage with partners from right across the globe, not just in our Euro-Atlantic near the neighbourhood, but also in the Indo-Pacific. So, I am very much looking forward to discussing that,” he said.
Cleverly stressed that the UK’s posture to the Indo-Pacific will be an increasingly important part of our long-term foreign policy. Our relationship with India, with Indonesia, with a number of other countries in the region, will be instrumental in supporting our own prosperity and security and the prosperity and security of our friends in the region.
In response to a question on possible bilateral discussions with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during the Foreign Ministers meeting, the British leader said Jaishankar will, of course, be very very busy as the host Foreign Minister, but I will perhaps abuse our relationship to make sure I have a little bit of time to have a bilateral discussion with him.
He highlighted that the two sides are talking about advancing the bilateral trade relationship through a Free Trade Agreement, “the negotiations of which are progressing.
He said The UK and India are also focused on their shared desire to use the intellect of their young generations working closely together on issues like renewable energy generation and storage, helping lift people out of rural poverty and “about making sure that we protect our natural environment whilst also supporting the economic development that India has seen over the last decades and a whole load of other things.
He quipped that the two might even have the opportunity to talk about cricket. I very much value my relationship with Dr Jaishankar. He is a very, very thoughtful interlocutor, and I look forward to spending some time with him in the G20 meetings, he said.
Responding to a question on how the UK views China’s aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere, Cleverly said the point that London has made to Beijing is that it is an important and significant international player.
“But we expect all countries in the world to abide by the rules, the regulations, the things that have kept our international relations in a positive spirit. I think that’s in their interest, it’s in the interest of the globe that they do so. If that were to be the case, they would be very, very important, not just a bilateral partner but multilateral partners. That’s what we’re hoping to achieve in our relationship with China.”