Rajnath Singh Concludes UK Visit After ‘Warm Meeting’ With PM Rishi Sunak

Rajnath Singh Concludes UK Visit After 'Warm Meeting’ With PM Rishi Sunak

LONDON, Jan 11: Refence Minister Rajnath Singh concluded his visit to the UK on Thursday after a ”warm meeting” with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and interacting with members of the Indian diaspora at a community reception.
Singh called on Prime Minister Sunak at 10 Downing Street here on Wednesday evening for discussions on a wide range of issues across bilateral defence and economic ties. He also gifted a Ram Darbar statue to Sunak, Britain’s first Hindu Prime Minister, during the meeting also attended by UK National Security Adviser (NSA) Sir Tim Barrow.
”Had a very warm meeting with the UK Prime Minister, Shri Rishi Sunak in London,” Rajnath Singh said in a statement on social media.
”I had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues with him. We discussed issues pertaining to defence, economic cooperation and how India and the UK could work together for strengthening a peaceful and stable global rules-based order,” he said.
According to the Indian Ministry of Defence readout of the meeting, Sunak agreed with the minister on the need for the UK and India to work in tandem and expressed hope that the ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations could be brought to a successful conclusion soon. India and the UK are currently holding the 14th round of FTA negotiations with the aim of significantly enhancing the annual GBP 36-billion bilateral partnership.
Sunak is said to have also underlined his keenness, and that of his government, to strengthen the defence and security pillar of the bilateral relationship, including through government backing for stronger business and technology partnerships with Indian counterpart entities. Meanwhile, Singh briefed Sunak about his “positive interactions” with the UK defence industry and the “new positive energy” in the bilateral defence relationship during his tour of the UK, the first by an Indian Defence Minister in 22 years.
He also met with UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and reflected on the new momentum and direction of the India-UK partnership, symbolised by intense engagements at various levels.

Singh ”outlined his goal of integrating defence industries of both countries including through supply chain integration to build resilience. He also emphasised the importance of bilateral start-up level interaction, and identification and discussion of joint projects which India and UK could implement together,” the Ministry of Defence said.
Cameron reiterated the UK government’s desire to collaborate with India in the defence areas, particularly in the field of defence industrial collaboration, as one of the means by which the UK hopes to strengthen the support for a rule-based international order.
Later on Wednesday evening, Singh interacted with nearly 200 persons of Indian origin at a community reception organised by the High Commission of India in London. Indian military ex-servicemen and family members of World War II veterans were also present at the event, during which the minister addressed the gathering to apprise them of the fast pace of growth and development underway in India.
”It is projected that by 2075-2080, India will be the No. 1 country in terms of economic ranking. This is the image of India today because of the fast pace of growth,” said Singh in an address to the gathering in Hindi, which was later briefly summarised by Indian High Commissioner to the UK Vikram Doraiswami in English.
Singh also shared aspects of a recent article in the ‘Global Times’, a Chinese government publication, entitled ‘What I feel about the Bharat Narrative in India’ by Zhang Jiadong.
”Even the Chinese government has been forced to accept that India today is an economic and strategic power, as expressed by a writer reflecting the Chinese government’s views. We don’t consider anyone an opponent but there is a perception that India-China relations are not good – though we want good relations with all countries. Yes, against that perception, even our neighbouring country China accepts India’s growing heft as a global power today,” he said.
The minister’s packed schedule during the three-day visit covered bilateral talks and co-chairing a UK-India Defence Industry CEOs Roundtable with his UK counterpart, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps. Singh was greeted with a ceremonial Guard of Honour in London and went on to clinch two agreements: an MoU on conduct of bilateral international cadet exchange programme, and a Letter of Arrangement between Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on defence collaboration in research and development. (Agencies)