Receive free G20 updates
We’ll send you a myFT Daily Digest email rounding up the latest G20 news every morning.
India should “call out” Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and use its clout to help end the war, Rishi Sunak will urge Narendra Modi when the pair meet in New Delhi on Saturday.
Sunak, Britain’s first prime minister of Indian descent, is going to New Delhi to attend the annual G20 summit. It is his first trip to the country since entering Downing Street.
Sunak and Modi, India’s prime minister, are expected to hold bilateral talks on the margins of the G20 event and will discuss progress in the trade deal the two countries are trying to negotiate.
Ahead of the trip, Downing Street said Sunak would also raise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and encourage Modi to adopt a more active diplomatic approach.
The UK prime minister’s spokesperson said Sunak would “use every opportunity” during the trip to impress Britain’s backing for Kyiv and “further foster global support”.
India has a “vital role to play as the world’s largest democracy in calling out Russia’s assault on human rights and indeed democracy itself”, added the spokesperson.
He said: “We will use meetings with Modi or elsewhere to encourage them to use that influence to bring an end to the brutal invasion.”
Despite Sunak’s planned entreaties, India’s government is viewed as unlikely to take a more vocal stance against Russia about the Ukraine war.
India has been neutral throughout the conflict, but Modi has spoken about its impact on food and commodity prices and their spillover effect on his country and other emerging economies.
Modi has also said repeatedly this is “not an era of war”, although India has bought discounted Russian oil throughout the conflict and Moscow is New Delhi’s largest arms supplier.
Downing Street highlighted that for a second year in a row Russian president Vladimir Putin had decided not to attend the G20 summit, and that Sunak would not shy away from criticising his stand in, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, “to his face” over the weekend.
Sunak will unveil plans on Friday for Britain to host a global food security summit in London in November in response to Russia’s “stranglehold” on grain exports from Ukraine.
The event will take place in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund, the United Arab Emirates and Somalia.
Meanwhile, although UK officials had long given up hope of finalising a trade deal with India in time for the G20 event, the two sides have stepped up the tempo of talks.
UK business secretary Kemi Badenoch last month travelled to New Delhi to inject political impetus into the negotiations.
Britain hopes to grow a market for whisky and cars in India while bolstering services and investment opportunities. India wants to export more manufactured goods and services to the UK, and secure additional work visas for its citizens.
Downing Street confirmed the UK was prepared to discuss business visas as part of the negotiations, but distinguished the “temporary movement of business people for specific purposes” from more permanent forms of migration.
“There are no plans to change our immigration policy to achieve a [free trade agreement]” with India, said Sunak’s spokesperson.
The UK’s stance on inward migration from India was discussed at the weekly meeting of Sunak’s cabinet on Tuesday, with ministers agreeing that Britain could not relax its policy, according to government insiders.
Credit: Source link