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UK foreign secretary holds talks with Indian counterpart

December 15, 2020 GMT
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British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, left and Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar arrive to make joint press statements after their meeting in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Dec.15, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, left and Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar arrive to make joint press statements after their meeting in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Dec.15, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

NEW DELHI (AP) — Britain’s foreign secretary and his Indian counterpart met on Tuesday in New Delhi in an effort to deepen ties between their countries.

Dominic Raab and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar held talks for about four hours and discussed a wide range of issues, including the post-pandemic world, defense, trade and the environment, the diplomats told reports after their meeting.

“The focus has been on how to take our ties to a higher level,” Jaishankar said. He said he and Raab focused on five broad themes — connecting people, trade and prosperity, defense and security, climate change and health.

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The two sides also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, the evolution of the Indo-Pacific region and developments in the Middle East, Jaishankar said. “As democratic polities, market economies and pluralistic societies, we can, we should and we will make a difference to the realization of a rules-based global order,” he said.

Raab, who arrived in India on Monday, said Britain wants to deepen its economic partnership with India. “We are committed to building a stronger defense and security partnership with India that will help us tackle shared issues related to terrorism and maritime security,” he said.

He also said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had accepted India’s Republic Day celebrations invitation on Jan. 26.

“As a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, India is an increasingly indispensable partner for the United Kingdom as we work to boost jobs and growth, confront shared threats to our security and protect our planet,” Johnson said in a statement released by his office.

India and Britain have enjoyed a strategic partnership since 2004, marked by regular high-level exchanges and cooperation in diverse areas. According to official statistics, India’s trade with Britain in 2017 and 2018 was worth $14.5 billion.

Raab’s three-day visit to India comes at a time when Britain is ramping up trade with leading economies and also holding complex negotiations with the European Union on reaching a post-Brexit trade deal.

“The foreign secretary comes at a very important time because we are looking at a post-COVID world and also looking at a post-Brexit world from the perspective of the U.K.,” Jaishankar said.

Raab will also meet with Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.