G20 Summit 2023: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday received a traditional welcome in New Delhi after his arrival for the high-profile G20 Summit to be held from tomorrow. Sunak is the first Indian-origin Prime Minister in the United Kingdom.
The British PM was received by Union Minister of State Ashwini Choubey at the airport. Prior to his arrival, Sunak said that he was referred to as the "son-in-law of India" and expressed his excitement about coming to India to attend the mega event.
"It's obviously special. I saw somewhere that I was referred to as India's son-in-law, which I hope was meant affectionately," Sunak told reporters. He also flagged the Russia-Ukraine war as a key topic of discussion among world leaders at the Summit.
"India has a vital role to play as the world's largest democracy in calling out Russia's assault on human rights and indeed democracy itself. We will use meetings with Modi or elsewhere to encourage them to use that influence to bring an end to Putin's brutal invasion," he said.
Sunak will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday during the second day of the Summit. The India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) is likely to feature highly in the meeting.
India-UK trade deal
Earlier, the Sunak government said that Britain has no plans to change its approach to reducing net migration in order to help secure a free trade deal with India. There is growing optimism that a free trade deal between the countries could be concluded this year, as both sides agree on the broad contours of the pact, though the remaining topics to be discussed are somewhat difficult.
"The Prime Minister believes that the current levels of migration are too high ... To be crystal clear, there are no plans to change our immigration policy to achieve this free trade agreement and that includes student visas," Rishi Sunak's spokesperson said.
Rishi Sunak on PM Modi and India
Sunak also said in an interview with news agency PTI that 2023 is a huge year for India, from all the different G20 meetings taking place across the country to the Cricket World Cup in October. "India is definitely home to the biggest global geopolitical events of the year," he noted.
"This country's scale, diversity and its extraordinary successes mean India is the right country at the right time to hold the G20 Presidency. I pay tribute to Prime Minister Modi's leadership over the last year and it’s wonderful to see India showing such global leadership," he stated in an email to PTI
The 43-year-old leader of the Conservative Party said that India has assumed the G20 Presidency at a time when the world is dealing with numerous challenges. "In the last twelve months we have seen a sharp rise in inflation and economic instability, we’ve witnessed the outbreak of conflict in Sudan, military coups in Niger and Gabon, and the ongoing repression of human rights in Afghanistan and elsewhere," he added.
Sunak also expressed his eagerness for the opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Modi and discuss how cooperation between India and the UK aids in addressing numerous global concerns. "When I meet Prime Minister Modi again this week it will be an opportunity to speak about some of the global challenges we face and the huge role that the UK and India have to play in addressing them," he said.
(with PTI inputs)