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Mon. Dec 5th, 2022
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LONDON: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons on Thursday that he had discussed “increasing our security cooperation with India” when he met PM Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali.
Sunak also said he raised with Modi “issues surrounding extradition”, the lack of an e-visa for British citizens to travel to India and India’s position visa-a-vis Putin and Ukraine.
On the UK-India trade deal, he said: “Both the Prime Minister of India and I committed our teams to working as quickly as possible to see if we can bring a successful conclusion to the negotiations. The majority of the substantive negotiations were concluded by the end of October. We will now work at pace with the Indian teams to try and resolve the issues left and come to a mutually satisfactory conclusion. Our relationship and partnership with India is much broader than just a trading relationship. I was pleased to discuss increasing our security cooperation with India too.”
Sunak gave a ministerial statement on the G20 in the House of Commons after which he was interrogated by MPs on whether he had pressed the Indian PM on India’s position on Putin and Ukraine.
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns asked what progress on isolating Russia was made at the G20 “with India and other nations that are not as aligned with the UK on Ukraine” but are “key to global stability and ending bloodshed”.
Sunak replied she was right to “point out the position of those non-aligned countries.” “We should all take enormous comfort from the fact that the G20 communiqué was agreed; it was substantive, comprehensive and contained strong language of condemnation about Russia’s aggression. It speaks to the feeling in the international community — as many, if not almost all, countries took the opportunity to say something about Russia’s actions, and joined us in condemning it. We will continue to have that dialogue with those partners,” he added.
In response to whether Russia could lose its membership of the G20, Sunak said it was “not possible in a consensual organisation to expel Russia”.
SNP MP Alison Thewliss asked if he had raised the case of Scottish Sikh citizen Jagtar Singh Johal with PM Modi. Sunak responded that he discussed “more generally the issues around extradition” with Modi and the UK has consistently raised its concerns about Johal’s case with the Indian government.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw asked whether the ban on UK e-visas was raised with Modi, asking “Why are Britons, alone in Europe, currently excluded from the Indian e-visa scheme?” Sunak replied it was something that they discussed, that he wanted to see the e-visa restored and that he would continue to raise the matter.
Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi pointed out that the new visa scheme, which will bring 3,000 Indians into the UK every year, will “in the fullness of time inevitably lead to an increase in immigration”. “At the same time, the home secretary has been busy spouting anti-immigrant and anti-refugee dog-whistle rhetoric. Who exactly is in charge of immigration policy? Is it the prime minister or the wannabe prime minister,” he asked.
But Sunak defended Suella Braverman, saying she “is rightly focused — there is nothing dog-whistle about it — on clamping down on illegal migration, which the British people rightly expect and demand, and it is something that she and this government will deliver.”

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