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Arun Jaitley, Nirmala Sitharaman to visit UK before Lok Sabha elections

While Jaitley is due to attend the annual Economic and Financial Dialogue between the two countries in February, Sitharaman will meet defence secretary Gavin Williamson

world Updated: Jan 09, 2019 21:50 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to soon visit UK to attend the Annual Economic and Financial Dialogue between the two countries (File Photo)
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to soon visit UK to attend the Annual Economic and Financial Dialogue between the two countries (File Photo)(PTI)
         

Finance minister Arun Jaitley and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman are expected to visit London in the near future for talks on economy and security cooperation, a senior Foreign Office official said here on Wednesday.

While Jaitley is due to attend the annual Economic and Financial Dialogue between the two countries in February, Sitharaman will meet defence secretary Gavin Williamson. She was to meet her counterpart last June, but the visit was called off.

Giving details of a range of activities in the bilateral relationship during the year, the official said a Home Office team is due to visit New Delhi next week to discuss the recently-released white paper on post-Brexit immigration proposals announced on December 19.

“We are keen to see how the white paper has been received, both by the Indian government and other stake-holders, such as tourists, students, entrepreneurs,” the official said.

The issue of returning Indian over-stayers and illegal migrants will be “an important part” of talks related to the white paper and other official interaction with New Delhi, he said. A memorandum of understanding on their return was to be signed during the April 2018 visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but it did not materialise.

There are differing views in London and New Delhi on the number of overstayers and illegal Indians in UK. The figure is not officially published but officials here have previously claimed that Indians top the list, numbering more than twice the number of the next country: Nigeria. Indian diplomats have disputed such estimates.

Terming the bilateral relationship as being in “good health”, the senior official noted the increase in trade figures and the number of students coming to the UK in recent years, adding that Indian professionals continued to be granted more than 50 per cent of all visas granted.

Other key areas on the agenda for 2019 include the tech partnership launched during Modi’s visit, cyber-security, defence security partnership and cooperation in the Indian Ocean. The British diplomatic network in India will see further expansion during the year, the official said.

First Published: Jan 09, 2019 20:42 IST

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