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EAM's opening remarks at Press Statement following the India-UK Ministerial Dialogue

December 15, 2020

Good afternoon, let me say that it is a great pleasure to meet all of you at the conclusion of my talks today with the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. He is, in fact, the first Foreign Minister who has visited us on a bilateral visit since the onset of the pandemic. I take his presence today not only as a good augury for our relationship but also for an early return to life as we used to know it.

Now, we have had this morning about four hours of discussions on a very wide range of issues. The focus has been on how to take our ties to a higher level. In recent years, as you all know there have been big changes in global politics and we both believe that our interests are better served by working together more effectively. That will not only be building on our historical ties, but also expressing our shared commitment to a multi-polar world. As democratic polities, market economies and pluralistic societies, we can, we should and we will make a difference to the realization of a rules-based global order.

A lot of our time today was spent on how to give policy directions to broaden our cooperation and encourage more activities and collaborations. We focused on five broad themes: connecting people, trade and prosperity, defence and security, climate, and health. Apart from senior officials of the Foreign Ministry including the Foreign Secretary who joined us today, I was also accompanied by the Principal Scientific Advisor who as many of you would know coordinates our vaccine response that was something which was discussed in great detail. Foreign Secretary Raab will also be meeting my colleagues Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal during his trip.

During the course of the year, the Foreign Secretary and I have been telephonically discussing both our Covid challenges and their economic implications. Today’s meeting gave us an opportunity to exchange notes and update ourselves on those issues. It is important that India and UK strengthen their collaboration to hasten their post-Covid economic recovery. This has many facets, including promoting greater trade and investment, fostering innovation and facilitating the flow of talent. I am truly glad that the Foreign Secretary will be interacting with Indian industry during his visit.

As Foreign Ministers, we naturally reviewed the state of the world. The situation in Afghanistan, the evolution of the Indo-Pacific and developments in the Middle East were among the subjects that came up. The challenges posed by terrorism and radicalism were a shared concern. As India enters the UN Security Council next month, we look forward to working together with the UK on a range of global issues.

Overall, I think it would be fair to say we had a very productive discussions. As our partnership becomes more ambitious and consequential, we are the two Ministers who will carry the responsibility of delivering on the vision of our leadership. So, I look forward to working with the Foreign Secretary very closely in the coming days which will be particularly important, he will tell you why, as indeed, in the coming years. Thank you.

New Delhi
December 15, 2020
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