Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, met in New Delhi this morning for Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) consultations to review bilateral co-operation.
The dialogue celebrated 12 months of progress since Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UK in April 2018 for the Commonwealth Summit, where he and Prime Minister May agreed on closer collaboration across trade and technology, security and people-to-people links.
The two countries have, over the past year, identified specific areas to work together as a force for good, for example on a global coalition on climate resilience, on disaster relief and on development. Bilateral trade has grown by 14%, and visas for Indian students have increased by 35%.
Speaking after the meeting, Sir Simon said:
The UK-India relationship is focused on the future: whether it be through the technology partnership, security collaboration or economic ties, our bilateral co-operation is designed to build shared prosperity and tackle future challenges. It has been 12 months of impressive progress since the Commonwealth Summit.
Over the next decade, the UK and India will be ever more central players in global debates on security, development and protecting our planet. I’m delighted that, together, we are tackling these issues head on as partners – reinforcing our two Prime Ministers’ desire to act as a joint ‘Force for Good’ in the world.
The UK and India share a common ambition for an international rules-based system. In line with this, the FCO consultations also covered bilateral co-operation on cyber and maritime security, counter-terrorism, and other regional challenges.
Sir Simon and Mr. Gokhale also reconfirmed the commitment made by their respective Prime Ministers to encourage closer business, cultural and intellectual co-operation – so millions more are able to learn, travel, trade, create and thrive together.
As the Permanent Under Secretary, Sir Simon McDonald is responsible for advising the Foreign Secretary and the ministerial team on foreign policy, and for managing the FCO. He is the UK’s most senior diplomat and Head of the UK Diplomatic Service.
The International Solar Alliance is the Indian Government’s flagship climate treaty and has already brought together more than 60 countries as a platform for co-operation among solar resource rich countries to increase the use of solar energy in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner. The UK confirmed its commitment to the ISA last month at the London Stock Exchange as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings. Proposed collaboration between the UK and ISA includes: solar financing, developing next generation solar technologies, and leveraging UK solar business’ expertise to support delivery of ISA objectives.
The Joint Statement issued by Prime Ministers Modi and May in April 2018 sets out the key areas of focus that the UK and India are working on together. It includes initiatives like the UK-India Tech Partnership, announced in April 2018, which pairs businesses, venture capital, universities and others to provide access routes to markets for both British and Indian entrepreneurs and enterprises.
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