India, UK exchange views on Afghanistan, Ukraine during Foreign Office consultations, seek early conclusion of FTA
India and UK aspire for early conclusion of balanced and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.
India and the United Kingdom on Monday expressed their desire for early conclusion of a "balanced and comprehensive" FTA with the two sides discussing issues of mutual interest including Afghanistan, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific during the Foreign Office Consultations held here. Both sides also discussed issues like trade and economic cooperation, defence and security, science and technology, people-to-people relationship, health and climate change, a Ministry of External Affairs release said.
India and the UK share a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, with the adoption of Roadmap 2030 for Future Relations. The release said FOC provided an opportunity to review the progress made in the implementation of Roadmap 2030 despite the restrictions imposed by the Covid-pandemic. "Both sides aspire to early conclusion of a balanced and comprehensive India-UK FTA that may intensify the economic engagement between the fifth and the sixth biggest global economies," the release said.
It was appreciated that letters formalizing the Young Professional Scheme were exchanged on the occasion of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on January 9 this year in London and the scheme would be launched on February 28, 2023. During the meeting, India and the UK exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest, "including - Afghanistan, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, Commonwealth and United Nations".
UK appreciated India's contribution at UN Security Council in 2021-22 as a non-permanent member and reiterated its support for UNSC reforms. UK commended India's priorities as President of G20 this year as it looked forward to its participation. The Indian delegation at the 15th India-UK Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) was led by Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra while the British side was led by Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary, Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). The last FOC was held in November 2020 in London.
The release said the Foreign Office Consultations provided an opportunity to review the progress made in the implementation of Roadmap 2030 despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID-pandemic. Both sides agreed to maintain regular exchanges at political and senior official levels and hold the next FOC in London in 2024.
Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Barton in Delhi. "Glad to meet @PhilipRBarton Permanent-Undersecretary at @FCDOGovUKtoday morning. Discussed our expanding bilateral relationship including progress under our Roadmap 2030 and global issues," Jaishankar said in a tweet. (ANI)
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