THE prime minister Rishi Sunak on Monday (11) told British lawmakers that he had “warm and productive” discussions with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi towards a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, as he updated parliament on his recent visit to New Delhi for the Indialed G20 summit.
Addressing the House of Commons after his first visit to India as British prime minister, Sunak began by flagging his and his wife Akshata Murty’s Indian connections and financial interests in that country.
In his detailed parliamentary statement, Sunak, 43, went on to highlight his three key aims of the India visit, which included increasing diplomatic pressure on Russian president Vladimir Putin over the conflict in Ukraine, climate action and strengthening ties with India.
“I held warm and productive discussions with prime minister Modi on strengthening our relationship in defence, technology and a free trade deal between our nations,” Sunak said.
India and the UK have concluded 12 negotiating rounds towards an FTA, which both sides believe will significantly enhance the £36 billion bilateral trade partnership. While in India, Sunak told reporters that things weren’t quite agreed on the pact but that he “won’t rush things”.
“For the record, let me declare that as is a matter of public record, I and my family are of Indian origin. My wife and her family are Indian citizens with financial interests in India,” Sunak told the Commons, with reference to Murty’s shares in Infosys – the software major co-founded by her father, Narayana Murthy.
Sunak pointed out that even as most G20 leaders came together in New Delhi in a spirit of cooperation, one leader was missing from the summit.
“Putin has lacked the courage to face his G20 peers day after day. His actions cause horrendous suffering in Ukraine, violating the UN Charter, threatening European security and disrupting global energy supplies… Leaders united in calling out the human suffering caused by Putin’s war,” he said.