India asks Britain to help curb misuse of Afghan soil

India has sought UK‘s support in ensuring that the Afghanistan is not used to threaten or attack any country, shelter or train terrorists, or to plan or finance terrorist attacks against another nation.

It is significant as British chief of the defence staff General Nicholas Carter has a direct channel of communication with Pakistan and had praised Taliban in the past, making UK an important stakeholder in the Af-Pak theatre. Foreign minister S Jaisankar discussed the need for full, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan when he met his UK counterpart Liz Truss and Carter here on Friday. They also discussed terrorism from Afghanistan. The foreign ministers agreed to strengthen cooperation in West Asia and the Indo-Pacific, on countering terrorism and radical extremism, and addressing emerging challenges in cyber and space domains, an MEA statement said. The two ministers underlined the need for launching FTA negotiations at the earliest, with focus on negotiating an interim agreement that can deliver quick gains to businesses in India and the UK. They discussed migration and mobility partnership and the global innovation partnership and committed to their early implementation. They also acknowledged the establishment of new dialogue mechanisms for discussing consular issues and maritime security. Both sides also agreed on instituting the India-UK Strategic Futures Forum Track, a new 1.5 dialogue mechanism to foster expert deliberations on long-term strategic links between the two countries.

They reviewed Roadmap 2030 launched during the India-UK virtual summit held on May 4. They discussed enhancing cooperation in trade and investments, people-to-people relationship, health partnership, climate change, science and innovation and defence and security.

“Today’s meeting is very useful because it gives us a chance to review the progress on Roadmap 2030 that was agreed to between our prime ministers…There’ve also been a number of geopolitical & political developments in our region, closer to your region, some concerning our activities, some dealing with you. There is also the larger issue of how we cope with Covid-19, the health, political and their economic consequences,” Jaishankar said.

“I’m delighted to make this one of my early priorities as foreign secretary and indeed our second meeting together. It is because we see our partnership with India as absolutely crucial. You believe in free enterprise and you believe in freedom. I think it’s very important that countries like ours act together on our shared plans for the future. We have a huge opportunity to deepen our relationship in a number of areas whether it’s security and defence, or technology, or health,” Truss said. “There’s so much more we can do in areas like sharing our expertise on the environment ahead of COP26.”

On the eve of Truss’ visit foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had said that India and the UK were looking at concluding an interim trade agreement amid negotiations towards a Free Trade Agreement. Addressing London’s India Global Forum virtually from new Delhi on Thursday, Shringla said Truss’ visit will add momentum to the partnership as it coincides with the UK’s Carrier Strike Group arriving in Mumbai for joint exercises. “We are negotiating a free trade agreement as things stand. We are also looking at an interim trade agreement,” Shringla said.

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