India, UK announce plan to hold twice postponed bilateral summit this week

Written by eveningindia

India and the UK are set to hold their twice-postponed summit this week with the two governments announcing the decision on Sunday. The virtual meeting between prime minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson could take place on Tuesday.

Also expected to take place virtually this week is a summit of Indian and European leaders, where Modi will interact with the leaders of all 27 European countries on Friday. Modi was expected to travel to Portugal for the meeting, but the visit had to be called off due to a devastating second wave of covid-19 infections at home.

The India-UK summit, which is expected to announce the launch of talks on a post-Brexit trade deal and a roadmap to 2030 for future relations, was first slated for January this year. Johnson was also invited as the chief guest of Republic Day celebrations on 26 January but that visit was called off in December due to spiraling covid-19 cases in Britain.

In March, UK announced that Johnson would come to India on 26 April. But that visit, too, was called off last month due to the surge in covid-19 cases in India. “The two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship. Both leaders attach the highest importance to taking the India-UK partnership to its fullest potential and propose to remain in close touch in this regard and look forward to an in-person meeting later in the year,” India’s foreign ministry said in a statement at the time.

A person familiar with the matter said the two sides are expected to announce the start of talks on a post Brexit trade deal during the summit this week.

The “2030 vision” that is also to be announced at the summit is for revitalized and dynamic connections between people, re-energized trade, investment and technological collaboration, enhanced defence and security cooperation and closer engagement on regional issues, including the Indian Ocean Region and the Indo-Pacific. The UK had last month published an integrated review of security defence, development and foreign policy with specific references to the importance of the Indo-Pacific region.

A partnership on climate action, clean energy and healthcare is also expected to be announced. Britain is the host for the 26 UN Climate Change Conference of Parties meet slated for November this year in Glasgow, Scotland.

As the host of the G-7 meet, Johnson has invited the leaders of India, Australia and South Korea to the meet in the Cornwall region in June.

The G-7 brings together the leaders of world’s seven leading democratic economies—the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US.

The European Union is also expected to be represented at the meet, which is expected to focus on the covid-19 pandemic, climate change and open trade.

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