• Saturday, December 09, 2023

HEADLINE STORY

Rishi Sunak and India’s Jaishankar celebrate Diwali at Downing Street

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, together with his wife Akshata Murty, greet Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his wife Kyoko, outside of 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, November 12, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melville

By: Pramod Thomas

PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty on Sunday (12) hosted Indian external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his wife Kyoko Jaishankar for Diwali tea at Downing Street.

“Delighted to call on prime minister @RishiSunak on #Diwali Day. Conveyed the best wishes of PM @narendramodi. India and UK are actively engaged in reframing the relationship for contemporary times,” Jaishankar posted on X.

He also thanked Sunak and his wife for their warm reception and gracious hospitality.

It marked the start of Jaishankar’s five-day official visit to the UK with an aim to review various aspects of bilateral ties and give “new impetus to the friendly ties”.

“Wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous Diwali. Hope that this Festival of Lights brings peace, prosperity and health for all,” the minister posted earlier on X.

While in the UK, he is expected to attend an event at Lord’s Cricket Ground and address a Diwali Reception organised by the High Commission of India in London on Monday (13).

He is also expected at a repatriation ceremony for two ancient temple sculptures from Uttar Pradesh and join a discussion on the theme of ‘How a billion people see the world’.

During his talks with his UK counterpart, foreign secretary James Cleverly, in London, it is expected that preparations for Sunak’s possible visit to India in the next few months will be on the agenda.

“India and the UK have a growing bilateral partnership. During his visit, the external affairs minister will be holding discussions with his counterpart, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and will meet several other dignitaries,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in a statement last week.

The MEA also referred to the “warm and thriving” relationship between the two sides.

The India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was launched in 2021 along with the India-UK Roadmap 2030 which seeks to expand ties in a range of areas.

“The roadmap is a commitment to a partnership that delivers for both the countries. The External Affairs Minister’s visit will give a new impetus to the friendly ties between the two countries,” the MEA said.

India and the UK have been negotiating a free trade agreement since January last year with a target to significantly enhance the estimated GBP 36 billion bilateral trading partnership.

The talks have undergone 13 rounds of negotiations, with officials hopeful of clinching a deal ahead of general elections in both countries scheduled for 2024.

(PTI)

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