Speaking to reporters en route to New Delhi, Rishi Sunak called his first trip to India as British Prime Minister “special.”
The Prime Minister noted that he usually takes his family to India every February, but he had abandoned those annual trips since being made Chancellor in 2020.
Sunak said, “It’s special. I’ll be visiting a country that is very near and dear to me. I haven’t been back for a few years.”
Sunak believes that he will be welcomed as “India’s son-in-law.”
“I saw somewhere that I was referred to as India’s son-in-law, which I hope was meant affectionately. But I’m excited to be back. It’s nice to have Akshata with me as well.”Rishi Sunak
The UK hopes that Sunak’s Indian heritage and the presence of his wife, Akshata Murty, the daughter of one of India’s richest men, will help guarantee a warm reception from locals when he arrives.
The British Prime Minister is expected to land in New Delhi on Friday, September 8, 2023, morning ahead of this weekend’s G20 summit.
G20 leaders will arrive in Delhi over the next 24 hours in preparation for the summit.
They include the U.S President, Joe Biden , as well as several European heads of state. However, neither the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, nor the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, will attend.
Sunak is the first British Prime Minister of Indian descent and Narendra Modi has suggested that he is as an example of the “living bridge” between the two nations.
Sunak plans to use the trip to make headway on a trade deal with India as well as persuading other countries to work to circumvent Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain.
Sunak and Modi will hold a bilateral meeting during the weekend, at which Sunak is expected to press for a trade deal before the end of the year as well as for India to take a tougher stance towards Russia.
Sunak Says Putin’s Absence Indicate Isolation
Sunak is not scheduled to meet Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister who will attend the summit on Putin’s behalf.
Nonetheless, Sunak said that he would have a strong message for Moscow if he gets to meet Lavrov.
“The message is, the fact that Putin is not there demonstrates his isolation in the global community,” Sunak told reporters.
Sunak added, “He wasn’t there last year, he’s not there this year to answer for what he’s doing. He doesn’t want to be held accountable.”
“They’ve destroyed about a third of Ukraine’s civilian export capacity with their bombardment. That is wrong, it’s not right. It’s causing suffering in Ukraine, but it’s also causing suffering to millions of people in very vulnerable countries around the world.
“And I want to do everything I can to hold them to account for that and to call out that behaviour.”Rishi Sunak
Sunak was more cautious, however, on whether he would meet Li Qiang, the Chinese Premier, and what he would say to him if he does.
Sunak remarked that the UK would “continue to make the case” to China that “what Russia is doing is wrong, and why it’s right to support Ukraine, particularly when it comes to food security.”
UK would also use negotiations over the weekend to make sure G20 nations “continue to meet their climate commitments,” he said.
The British Prime Minister indicated that he wanted China to commit to the same form of words on Ukraine and climate change that was agreed at the last G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last year.
The G20 “worked really hard at Bali” to come to an agreement, Sunak said.
Those two topics would dominate discussions over the weekend, he added.