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India right country at right time to host G20 summit, says Rishi

Last updated on: September 08, 2023 22:07 IST

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday said G20 has been a huge success for India and it is the "right country at the right time to be hosting this”.

IMAGE: United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and UK First Lady Akshata Murty arrive at Palam Airforce Airport for the G20 Summit, in New Delhi, September 8, 2023. Photograph: ANI Photo

The UK PM, who arrived in New Delhi along with his wife Akshata Murty on Friday to attend the G20 Summit being held on September 9 and 10, said that he will make sure that G20 under India's presidency achieves success.


"I'm very keen to support Prime Minister Modi and making sure that this G20 is an enormous success for India which I know it will be and this has been a great year for India more generally," he said.

“G20 has been a huge success for India. India is the right country at the right time to be hosting this. I feel we are going to have a very good couple of days of deliberations and decisions made,” the British Prime Minister added while highlighting that the coming two days will witness hectic deliberations.

Emphasising that various issues are on agenda at the G20 under India’s leadership.

He said: “I’m confident that we’ll make very good progress on a range of different issues.”

IMAGE: Rishi Sunak (second from left) and the UK's First Lady Akshata Murty (third from left) receive a warm welcome from Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs Ashwini Kumar Choubey (second from right). Photograph: ANI Photo

Referring to the theme of the 18th G20 Summit Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which translates to "One Earth, One Family, One Future", Sunak said: “I think it’s a great theme. I am an example of the incredible living bridge that Prime Minister Modi described between UK and India.”

Mentioning on the progress to be made on the India-UK Free Trade Agreement, Sunak said, "Well I think the bilateral relationship is in good health and Prime Minister Modi and I are keen to deepen and broaden our relationship. The FTA is an obvious way for us to do that which is why it remains our priority and as I said there is hard work to go. But I hope we can conclude a successful FTA."

India and UK have held 12 rounds of talks for the UK-India Free Trade Agreement. It was held on August 8-31, and was conducted in a hybrid fashion. A number of UK officials travelled to Delhi for negotiations and others attended virtually.

The thirteenth round of negotiations is due to take place this month.

Sunak said almost two million people of Indian origin live in the UK.

“So, it’s very special for me to be here as British Prime Minister in the country where my family is from,” he said.

'Proud to see India doing so well on the world stage'

Expressing pride for his ‘Hindu’ roots, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his hope that he will find time to visit a temple, here in India, during his stay for the G20 Summit.

Sunak said that he has “enormous respect” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that he is keen to support him in making G20 an enormous success.

He also spoke about celebrating ‘Raksha Bandhan’.

IMAGE: Sunak and his wife Akshata pose for a picture with the students during his visit to the British Council, in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo

Speaking exclusively to ANI, Rishi Sunak said, “I am a proud Hindu. That’s how I was raised, that’s how I am. Hopefully, I can visit the Mandir while I am here for the next couple of days. We just had Rakshabandhan, so from my sister and my cousin, I have all my Rakhis.”

“I didn’t have time to celebrate Janmashtami. But hopefully, as I said I can make up for that if we visit a Mandir this time,” he added.

He further said that faith is something very important as it gives strength and resilience during stress.

“It is something that is important to me. I think faith is something that helps everybody who has faith in their lives, particularly when you have these stressful jobs like I do. Having faith gives you resilience, gives you strength that is important and it provides an outlook on life which I find particularly valuable,” Sunak added.

On being asked about his equation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sunak said, "Yes, and I have enormous respect for Modiji and he's been personally very warm and kind to me and we're working very hard as I said on our shared ambition of concluding an ambitious and comprehensive trade deal between India and the UK, because both of us think that would be a good thing and both of us need to make sure it works for our two countries."

The UK PM also called his visit to India as ‘fantastic’ and said that he has enjoyed his first few hours here.

“It is fantastic for me to be back in India. Obviously, it's personally very special for me to be here, particularly with Akshata, and we thoroughly enjoyed the first few hours of our trip so far,” he said.

He also recalled the days he used to spend time with his wife Akshata Murthy in Bangalore and expressed his desire to visit one of his favourite restaurants.

“Well you know obviously you know my wife is from Bangalore, we got married in Bangalore. We used to spend lots of time together before we had children in Delhi and were trying to figure out if we can go to one of our old favourite restaurants this evening,” Sunak said.

Expressing happiness on coming to India in his present role, Sunak said he is very proud to see India doing so well on the world stage.

He added, “But look, it's personally incredibly special for me to be back in India. It is a country I love dearly, a country where my family are from. But to come here in this role to represent the UK, to find ways to forge closer links with India and play a part in making sure that India has an incredibly successful G20 and I'm very proud to see India doing so well on the world stage”.

'Not for me to tell India what position to take on Ukraine war'

Sunak said that India respects the rule of law and it was not his position to advise it on what position to take on the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"Well, it's not for me to tell India what positions to take on international issues. But I know India rightly cares about the international rule of law, the UN Charter and respect for territorial integrity. I think those are things that are universal values that we all share. Those are things that I believe and India I know believes in those things too" Sunak said.

India's position has been that Russia needs to pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy for an early resolution of the conflict.

Sunak said that he was looking to highlight the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict at the summit.

"When it comes to Ukraine and Russia in conflict one thing I will be doing is highlighting the devastating impact that Russia's illegal invasion is having on millions of people around the world, particularly on food prices. Russia recently pulled out of a grain deal that was shipping grain from Ukraine to many poor countries around the world and now you've seen food prices have gone up. That is causing suffering for millions of people, Sunak said.

"It's not right, and one of the things I'll be doing is making people aware of that impact of Russia's illegal war" the UK Prime Minister said.

Russia is being represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who will be attending the summit on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When asked about the Russia-Ukraine conflict casting a possible shadow on the outcome of the meeting of the Group of 20 Developed Economies, Sunak said that he believed that the G20 under India's presidency would make "good progress."

"I think there will be many things that we will be discussing here at the G20 under India's leadership, and I am confident that we will make very good progress on a range of different issues," Sunak said.

"I think G-20 has been a huge success for India. India is the right country at the right time to be hosting this and I feel we're going to have a very good couple of days of deliberations and decisions made," said the UK Prime Minister.

Sunak arrived in New Delhi on Friday to attend the G20 Summit being held on September 9 and 10. He is accompanied by his wife Akshata.

Union Minister of State in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ashwini Kumar Choubey received Sunak and his wife at the airport.

A group of dancers performed a traditional dance to welcome Sunak and his wife.

It is Sunak's first visit to India as prime minister since he assumed office in October last year.

Ahead of his arrival in Delhi, Rishi Sunak said that he is heading to the G20 Summit with a clear focus, which includes estabilising the global economy, building international ties and supporting the most vulnerable.

"I’m heading to the #G20 Summit with a clear focus. Stabilising the global economy. Building international relationships. Supporting the most vulnerable. This action is part of that – Putin again has failed to show up for the G20, but we will show up with support for Ukraine," Sunak said in a post on X.

"At the summit, the Prime Minister will stress the importance of those who do choose to attend demonstrating their leadership, both in helping the world’s most vulnerable people to deal with the terrible consequences of Putin’s war and in addressing wider challenges like climate change and the stability of the global economy," UK Prime Minister's Office said.

PM Modi will hold a bilateral meeting with Sunak on September 9 on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, sources said.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima in May this year and discussed the India-UK free trade agreement, innovation, and science along with ways to strengthen the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries.

The two countries are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement and the talks started in 2022.

Meanwhile, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra has said, "The coming together of the 41 Heads of delegations, Heads of State/Govt, Heads of international organisations in India, starting yesterday is under PM's personal leadership and direction.

"It is essentially a celebration of the coming together of the G 20 family...This is the largest-ever participation of the Global South in India," Kwatra said.

India assumed the G20 presidency on December 1 last year and about 200 meetings related to G20 were organized in 60 cities across the country.

The 18th G20 Summit will be a culmination of all the G20 processes and meetings held throughout the year among ministers, senior officials, and civil societies.

One of the takeaways of India’s G20 presidency is the revolutionisation of Digital Payment Infrastructure, as initially very few people knew about it, but it has taken forward extensively, G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said on Friday.

Source: ANI