Afghanistan, vaccine protocol discussed as UK, India foreign ministers meet

Both India and the UK have expressed concerns about the lack of inclusivity in the new setup created by the Taliban following the group’s takeover of Afghanistan last month. The two countries have also said that Afghan soil should not become a hub for terrorism
External affairs minister S Jaishankar. (File photo)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar. (File photo)
Updated on Sep 21, 2021 09:30 AM IST
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The situation in Afghanistan and the early resolution of the issue of Indian travellers to the UK having to quarantine for 10 days figured in a meeting between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his British counterpart Liz Truss on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Both India and the UK have expressed concerns about the lack of inclusivity in the new setup created by the Taliban following the group’s takeover of Afghanistan last month. The two countries have also said that Afghan soil should not become a hub for terrorism.

“Exchanged views on developments in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific. Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest,” Jaishankar tweeted after his meeting with Truss on Monday.

Jaishankar said he had also discussed progress on the Roadmap 2030 that aims to elevate relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership over the next decade.

The road map was adopted at a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart Boris Johnson in May, when the two sides also launched an Enhanced Trade Partnership and unveiled plans to finalise an interim trade deal by mid-2022.

Also Read | Afghanistan crisis, China border row major security challenges for India: Shringla

This was Jaishankar’s first meeting with Truss since she was appointed the UK foreign secretary last week, replacing Dominic Raab. Truss has played a key role in advancing trade ties with India in her former role as secretary of state for international trade.

The issue of vaccine certification emerged as a fresh irritant in India-UK ties as Indian nationals who have received even the AstraZeneca vaccine as considered to be unvaccinated under new British travel rules that will come into effect from October 4.

The UK said on Monday it is working with India on the recognition of Covid-19 vaccine certification issued by India authorities following criticism of the new travel restrictions.

A British high commission spokesperson said: “We are engaging with the government of India to explore how we could expand UK recognition of vaccine certification to people vaccinated by a relevant public health body in India.”

The UK is committed to opening up international travel “as soon as is practicable” and the new rules were a “further step to enable people to travel more freely again, in a safe and sustainable way, while protecting public health”.

The new rules, which were unveiled by Britain on Friday, were described by the UK as an effort to change the current “red, amber, green traffic light system” to a single red list of countries and “simplified travel measures” for arrivals from around the world.

The Indian side was especially upset by the new rules as vaccination-related travel restrictions had been repeatedly taken up with the UK at the highest levels, including by foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and external affairs minister S Jaishankar, in recent months.

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Thursday, December 09, 2021