Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardan Shringla met UK’s Acting NSA David Quarrey and they reviewed the progress of the nations’ growing cooperation in “security sector, fight against international terrorism and new and emerging threats and challenges”.
Shringla, who also met British Home Secretary Priti Patel and Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry Tariq Ahmad, discussed the Commonwealth, UN and South Asia as well as the discussed India-UK bilateral agenda and consulted on regional and global issues.
Earlier, speaking at the think-tank Policy Exchange on the topic of “India’s Vision of the Indo-Pacific” late on Tuesday, Shringla said that the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit are both “game changers” that have forced countries to think very carefully about geopolitical aspirations and how they define the course of future economic and political energies.
“Both are gamechangers… Brexit has meant both Europe and the United Kingdom have to look at redefining their relationships with their principle partners all over again. We see this as a unique opportunity to redefine and reset our ties with the UK,” said Shringla, addressing questions with Lord Jo Johnson at the end of his speech.
Shringla expressed the hope that the UK would follow France, the Netherlands and Germany in finalising its Indo-Pacific strategy in keeping with a definitive shift in the global economic trajectory from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific.
“The Indo-Pacific is all about looking at what are your options… We would like the UK to come in as a major investor and innovation partner; a range of activities in the digital and cyber age which may not have been even possible to conceive earlier,” he said.
Shringla highlighted that India has not just mainstreamed the expression “Indo-Pacific” but also encouraged countries to perceive and define the region to its full extent – as the vast maritime space stretching from the western coast of North America to the eastern shores of Africa.
“For us, and for many others, the shift in the economic trajectory from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific has been hugely consequential. The rise of China and the imperative for a global rebalancing have added to the mix. A rules-based international order is achievable only with a rules-based Indo-Pacific,” the Foreign Secretary said.
“That is why a country like Germany, physically distant but an economic stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific, has released a strategy for the region. After France and the Netherlands, it is the third European country to do so… The UK, we hope and expect, will be next on the list, and too will finalise its Indo-Pacific strategy soon,” he said.
Without naming any country specifically, he stressed on the need to secure end-to-end supply chains in the region, with no “disproportionate dependence” on a single country.
“An Indo-Pacific guided by norms and governed by rules, with freedom of navigation, open connectivity, and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states, is an article of faith for India,” he said.
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