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PM Modi holds bilateral talks with Rishi Sunak on sidelines of G7 Summit 2024 | WATCH

PM Modi's meeting with Sunak came after he held similar talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the G7 Summit 2024 in Italy. PM Modi was invited for the grand event by his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni and will meet other world leaders during the event.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Rome Updated on: June 14, 2024 19:53 IST
PM Modi with his British counterpart Rishi Sunak on the
Image Source : NARENDRA MODI (X) PM Modi with his British counterpart Rishi Sunak on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Italy.

G7 Summit 2024: Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds a bilateral meeting with UK PM Rishi Sunak in Apulia, on the sidelines of G7 Summit. The two leaders shared a hug after PM Modi held a similar meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier in the day. 

PM Modi and Sunak last met in person at the G20 Summit in New Delhi last September, when they had agreed to accelerate the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks with the hope of signing off before India's general election. However, the trade talks are now expected to resume only after a new UK government is elected on July 4.

The two leaders talked about the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, enhancing industrial cooperation in the defence sector, boosting trade and commerce, and more. PM Modi reiterated his commitment to strengthen the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in the third term of the NDA Government. The Indian PM also conveyed his best wishes to his British counterpart as the country prepares for its general elections next month.

The Indian Prime Minister, who was invited to the grand event by his Italian counterpart, Meloni, reached on Friday morning with a high-level delegation. This was PM Modi's first overseas trip in his 'historic' third term. All eyes would be on his potential meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Pope Francis.

Issues discussed at the G7

The summit kicked off at 11:15 a.m. (0915 GMT) on Thursday with a discussion about Africa, climate change and development. The conversation then switches to the Middle East before two sessions dedicated to Ukraine - the first including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The second day has sessions on immigration, the Indo-Pacific and economic security before the arrival in the afternoon of the outreach partners for talks on the Mediterranean, energy and Africa. Pope Francis will lead talks on Artificial Intelligence.

Much focus will be on whether the leaders can finally reach an agreement on how to leverage profits generated by Russian assets frozen in the West and use them for Ukraine. US President Joe Biden will sign a new security agreement with Ukraine on the sidelines of the gathering. India on Wednesday reiterated that the best option to resolve the Ukraine conflict is dialogue and diplomacy as Prime Minister Narendra Modi travels to Italy to attend the annual summit of the G7 grouping that is set to focus on dealing with global geopolitical turmoil.

India-UK FTA talks

India and the UK have been working on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for a long time since before Sunak came to power, as part of efforts to boost bilateral trade currently worth 38.1 billion pounds per year.  The FTA talks began in January 2022 year with Diwali 2022 set as the initial deadline by Johnson. Under Sunak-led Tory government, no new timelines were set but both sides were looking to get things signed off before a general election year in India and the UK in 2024.

India and the UK have held 13 rounds of talks on the FTA and the 14th round started in January, where they were looking at sealing it by bridging differences on certain contentious issues including mobility of people and import duty concessions on certain items. There are 26 chapters in the agreement, including goods, services, investments, and intellectual property rights.

Now that the elections have been announced in the UK, just a month after India's Lok Sabha elections were declared on June 4, the hopes of a deal being clinched by Sunak's government have diminished greatly as the country is now busy preparing for the election. However, experts believe that the results of the UK election would have no large changes on the India-UK trade negotiations. The Labour Party has committed itself to “finish the job” but the timelines will remain uncertain for some time after the surprise announcement. 

The Indian industry is demanding greater access for its skilled professionals from sectors like IT and healthcare in the UK market, besides market access for several goods at nil customs duty. On the other hand, the UK is seeking a significant cut in import duties on goods such as scotch whiskey, electric vehicles, lamb meat, chocolates, and certain confectionary items.

(with inputs from agency)

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