By: Pramod Thomas
Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday (7) spoke to his British counterpart James Cleverly focusing on various aspects of bilateral ties and India’s G-20 presidency.
The phone conversation came ahead of the British foreign secretary’s likely visit to India to attend a meeting of the G-20 foreign ministers on March 1 and 2.
“Received a call from UK Foreign Secretary @JamesCleverly. Reviewed our bilateral relationship and discussed the agenda of India’s G20 Presidency,” Jaishankar tweeted.
It was the first phone conversation between Jaishankar and foreign secretary Cleverly after a controversy broke out over a two-part BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
India dismissed the documentary as a “propaganda piece” saying it is designed to push a particular “discredited narrative”. It is understood that the implementation of a 10-year roadmap between India and the UK to bolster the ties in diverse areas figured in the phone conversation.
However, it is not known whether Jaishankar and Cleverly touched upon the proposed free trade agreement between the two sides.
The India-UK relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the India-UK virtual summit held between prime minister Narendra Modi and his then British counterpart Boris Johnson in May, 2021.
At the summit, the two sides adopted a 10-year roadmap to expand ties in the key areas of trade and economy, defence and security, climate change and people-to-people connections among others.
The two sides have been engaged in negotiations for a free trade agreement as well. Modi and his British counterpart Rishi Sunak held talks in Bali in November on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.