Prime Minister Narendra Modi today told his British counterpart Theresa May there would be no dilution in the importance of the UK to India after it leaves the EU, as the two leaders agreed to infuse new energy into bilateral ties post-Brexit. The two leaders had “fruitful discussions” on multiple aspects of India-UK relations and issues like counter-terrorism, radicalisation and online extremism, according to official statements. Modi, who arrived at 10 Downing Street for a breakfast meeting, was greeted with the customary handshake by May. “Very welcome to London, Prime Minister,” May said as she greeted Modi. “Wonderful meeting with Prime Minister @theresa_may at 10, Downing Street. We had fruitful discussions on multiple aspects of India-UK relations,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted after the meeting. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the two leaders had wide-ranging talks on redefining and infusing new energy into the bilateral engagement post-Brexit.
Brexit refers to the UK’s decision in a June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the 28-nation European Union (EU). A statement issued by 10 Downing Street after the meeting said that the Syria air strikes, counter-terrorism, radicalisation and online extremism were among some of the key topics covered by both leaders. “Prime Minister Modi said there would be no dilution in the importance of the UK to India post-Brexit. He said the City of London was of great importance to India for accessing the global markets and would remain so,” a Downing Street spokesperson said. “The Prime Minister (May) updated Prime Minister Modi on the progress of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, saying the implementation period agreed in March gives Indian companies and investors the confidence that market access will continue on current terms until the end of 2020,” the spokesperson said.
May reiterated the UK’s position on Russia’s recent “destabilising behaviour”, underlined by the attack in Salisbury on former Russian double Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia and the protection provided for the Syrian regime’s repeated use of chemical weapons against its people. “They reflected on the progress made on bilateral defence and security cooperation since the Prime Minister’s visit to India in 2016 and the agreement to a number of Defence Capability Partnerships in key strategic areas, with closer military-to-military ties underpinned by a succession of high level visits and exchanges,” Downing Street said.
During a discussion on cooperation between the two countries on legal matters, which is likely to have covered extradition matters, May also welcomed the return to the UK of the “Chennai Six”, the former British soldiers accused of piracy who were freed from an Indian jail last year. The two leaders said trade between the UK and India had grown strongly over the last year and agreed to build on the recommendations of the UK-India Joint Trade Review to reduce barriers to trade, to make it easier to do business in both countries and enable a stronger bilateral trade relationship for the future. May and Modi discussed a new UK-India Tech Partnership, which will create thousands of jobs and generate significant investment in both our economies.
Looking ahead at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) tomorrow, they also agreed on the importance of working together to build a more “sustainable, prosperous, secure and fairer future” for all Commonwealth citizens. “We are committed members of the Commonwealth. We share a global outlook and commitment to a rules-based international system that strongly opposes unilateral actions that seek to undermine that system through force or coercion,” said a joint statement issued by the two sides.
The two leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms including terrorism and terror-related incidents in both India and the UK. They affirmed that terrorism cannot be justified on any grounds whatsoever it may be and it should not be associated with any religion, creed, nationality and ethnicity. The leaders agreed that terrorist and extremist organisations need to be denied space to radicalise, recruit and conduct attacks on innocent people; for this all countries need to work together to disrupt terrorist networks, their financing and movement of terrorists, including foreign terrorist fighters, the joint statement said.
The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation to take decisive and concerted actions against globally-proscribed terrorists including Lashkar-e-Tayibba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Haqqani Network, Al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates, as well as tackling the online radicalisation and violent extremism which feeds this, it added. “A secure, free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific is in the interests of India, the UK and the international community,” Modi and May said amidst China’s flexing its muscles in South and East China seas.
The UK and India will also work together to tackle threats such as piracy, protect freedom of navigation and open access, and improve maritime domain awareness in the region. The two sides also agreed further enhance cooperation to promote international security and stability in cyberspace. According to official estimates, India-UK bilateral trade stands at USD 13 billion, with the UK among the largest G20 investors into India.