UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson in India, to meet PM Modi and FM Jaitley
A host of issues such as visas, pending extradition request, trade ties, the United Kingdom’s preparations to exit the European Union are expected to come up in Johnson’s talks with the ministers.india Updated: Jan 18, 2017 12:29 IST
British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who is on a two-day visit to India to take part in the Raisina Dialogue, will meet finance minister Arun Jaitley and minister of state for external affairs MJ Akbar on Wednesday.
Raisina Dialogue is India’s flagship geo-political conference organised annually by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) in association with the ministry of external affairs.
He will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Johnson’s visit comes little over two months after Prime Minister Theresa May chose India as her first port of call outside the European Union after assuming office.
A host of issues such as visas, pending extradition request, trade ties, the United Kingdom’s preparations to exit the European Union are expected to come up in his talks with the ministers.
“Mobility issues are of importance to us. We cannot separate free movement of people from the free flow of goods, services and investments,” an Indian official said.
India has been raising its concern related to visa and migration with the UK for some time now. In the past five years, the number of Indian students studying in the UK has come down from 40,000 to 20,000 due to the change in the visa rules on post-study work.
“India is an important country for the UK. And curbing the flow of good minds, whether they are students or skilled workers, is not good for the UK,” S Irudayarajan, migration expert and a long-time consultant for the government on mobility issues, said.
The extradition cases are another important issue. Liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who is facing a loan default case of over Rs 9,000 crore, left in March last year and is reportedly living in London.
The former Rajya Sabha MP is wanted by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The Indian government suspended his diplomatic passport after a special court in Mumbai issued non-bailable warrants against him.
A group of banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) has already rejected his offer to repay part of the dues and told the Supreme Court they wanted him to return to India so they could negotiate with him personally over the total amount owed by him.
Johnson is expected to brief the Indian side on the UK’s plan to move out of European Union, an important matter for Indian companies who see the UK as a gateway to Europe. Indian officials maintained any talks on a Free Trade Area will start only after the UK leaves EU.
Johnson will meet business leaders on Thursday and will also visit Kolkata and call on Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. He will also visit Maidan Park and interact with cricketers and representatives of the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB).