British foreign secretary Dominic Raab will visit India during December 14-17 to take forward ties with India, especially in trade and security, against the backdrop of the UK’s troubled exit from the European Union (EU).
Raab will hold talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in New Delhi on December 15 on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. He will meet environment minister Prakash Javadekar and education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.
As part of the visit, Raab will travel to Bengaluru where he will meet Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa on December 17.
India and the UK have had a strategic partnership since 2004 that has been marked by regular high-level exchanges and growing cooperation in diverse areas, the external affairs ministry said while announcing Raab’s visit on Monday.
Raab’s visit will “pave the way for further strengthening of the partnership across trade, defence, climate, migration and mobility, education and health sectors in the post-Covid, post-Brexit context”, the ministry said.
During their meeting, Raab and Jaishankar are expected to review efforts to forge a 10-year road map for the India-UK relationship and discuss a defence logistics agreement.
Both countries have also been working closely on climate change, including the India-led Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
India is also understood to have invited UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be chief guest at next year’s Republic Day celebrations.
The UK has stepped up efforts to forge stronger trade ties with key countries amid problems in forging a post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU. Britain and the EU are set to return to the negotiating table on Monday after agreeing to abandon a make-or-break deadline for such a trade pact.
EU chief Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister Johnson said last week they would decide whether an agreement was possible by the end of December 13, but later agreed to “go the extra mile”.
Von der Leyen and Johnson didn’t set a new deadline but Conservative Party MP Mark Harper suggested the talks could go right to the wire, with less than three weeks until Britain leaves the single European market at the end of December.