Published By: Sheen Kachroo
Last Updated: November 03, 2023, 23:35 IST
London, United Kingdom (UK)
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday afternoon during which both leaders discussed the need to de-escalate tensions and the importance of protecting innocent civilians in the Israel-Gaza conflict, Downing Street said.
The phone call centred around the situation in the Middle East but also covered bilateral ties and the progress being made towards an ambitious deal in the ongoing India-UK free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.
The leaders discussed the deeply distressing situation in the Middle East and condemned Hamas’s attacks on Israel, said a Downing Street spokesperson in a readout of the call.
They reiterated that Hamas did not represent the Palestinian people and reflected on the need to de-escalate tensions in the wider region.
The Prime Minister (Sunak) also underscored the importance of protecting innocent civilians in Gaza and ensuring aid was able to flow into the country, the spokesperson said.
Turning to the friendship between the UK and India, the leaders discussed recent progress on free trade agreement negotiations. They agreed on the importance of securing an ambitious deal that benefitted both sides, the spokesperson said.
Cricket fan Sunak also congratulated Modi on Team India’s winning streak in the World Cup and expressed the hope that England would have better luck in their Test series against India, scheduled for the New Year.
Finally, the leaders discussed the ongoing Cricket World Cup being held in India.
The Prime Minister (Sunak) congratulated Modi on the strong performance of the Indian team and said he hoped England would have more luck during their test series in India in January, the spokesperson added.
The UK and India have been negotiating an FTA since January last year and there has been growing speculation around an agreement being clinched in the coming weeks, with an expected second Sunak visit as UK prime minister to India after the G20 summit in September.
According to official UK government figures, bilateral trade with India was worth an estimated GBP 36 billion in 2022 — a figure expected to be significantly enhanced with an FTA.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)