By: Shubham Ghosh
British foreign secretary James Cleverly has said that India’s G20 presidency comes at an “incredibly important time” when the world faces challenges such as the conflict in Ukraine, global food-supply disruptions and China’s “increasingly assertive actions”.
He said he will travel to New Delhi next week for the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting and engage with partners from across the world.
India took over the presidency of the grouping on December 1 last year.
“India is an incredibly important global player of increased, not only economic prosperity but diplomatic influence. We’re very very pleased with that. We’re very proud of the longstanding relationship the UK has of course with India,” Cleverly told the Press Trust of India in an exclusive interview at the United Nations on Friday (24).
In his address at a high-level UN Security Council debate on ‘Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine’ at the world body on the first year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during the day, the British secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs said, “But this is an incredibly important year because we see not only conflict in Ukraine, we see global food supply disruptions, we see China’s increasingly assertive actions on the world stage. So India’s G20 presidency comes at an incredibly important time.”
He said that he wishes India “complete success” in its presidency, and “making sure that we debate the whole range of issues facing the world, not just the ones that are perhaps in the headlines at the moment.”
The G20 foreign ministers’ meeting will be held in New Delhi on March 1 and 2 and apart from Cleverly, other top diplomats such as US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov will also be present at the event.
“I will be joining the foreign ministers of the G20 next week. Of course, it is an opportunity for us in the UK to engage with partners from right across the globe, not just in our Euro-Atlantic near the neighbourhood, but also in the Indo-Pacific. So, I am very much looking forward to discussing that,” he said.
Cleverly, stressed that the UK’s posture to the Indo-Pacific will be an “increasingly important part of our long-term foreign policy”.
He said, “Our relationship with India, with Indonesia, with a number of other countries in the region, will be instrumental in supporting our own prosperity and security and the prosperity and security of our friends in the region.”
In response to a question on possible bilateral discussions with India’s external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during the foreign ministers’ meeting, the British leader said Jaishankar “will, of course, be very very busy as the host foreign minister, but I will perhaps abuse our relationship to make sure I have a little bit of time to have a bilateral discussion with him.”
To a question on the need for reforming the UN Security Council with India sitting as a permanent member helping address global challenges, Cleverly said the UK recognises that for institutions to remain valuable, they have to evolve and London has been talking about UN reform for some time.
“I think it’s absolutely right that we have increasingly influential voices like India’s centerstage at these multilateral fora. We’ve made that position publicly. We want to remind the world that organizations like the United Nations are important but we need to make sure there’s a real diversity of voice at the top table including India’s,” he told the PTI.
(With PTI inputs)