Britain hopes to work with India to exercise influence over China on N Korea

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 16, 2017

Never mind what you are hearing from the White House: Boris Johnson

Britain hopes to work with India to exercise influence over China on North Korea, the country’s Foreign Secretary has said. Speaking at a event celebrating Indian independence’s 70th anniversary in London on Tuesday evening, Boris Johnson expressed his hope that the two allies could work together to “persuade our friends in China of the truth… It’s in the Chinese government’s hands to exercise that economic pressure to achieve the diplomatic resolution that we need.

“Never mind what you are hearing from the White House; let’s focus on the real cause of the current crisis, when North Korea is recklessly and wantonly threatening its neighbours and those further afield with nuclear strikes,” he said.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with India in our determination to ensure stability in the Asia-Pacific region. In all those efforts to secure peace and security — the indispensable foundation of trade and prosperity — we are working ever more closely with India.

“This relationship is about so much more than trade and so much more than…the interchange of goods and services. It’s about the things that make the trade happen and at a time when the world is full of promise and full of threats and when global trade has actually been declining as a share of global growth, our relationship with India is about the safety, security and freedom that make that trade possible. We are shoulder to shoulder with India in tackling the threat of extremism and terrorism of the type we have seen in our great cities.”

Johnson’s remarks mark a shift away in Britain from rhetoric focussed largely on trade cooperation with India in the wake of the Brexit referendum to a more holistic discussion of the relationship. Senior figures in India have on occasion expressed their concern about the focus on boosting trade. Last year, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the BBC that India was no longer being treated as “old friends” but that relationship had become a tight “tight professional engagement.”

“India must be recognised as bearing the brunt of this for decades. Iif this isn’t recognised, bilateral cooperation will not be a success,” India’s envoy to the UK YK Sinha said in June. Johnson also acknowledged factors that stood in the way of greater cooperation including over visas, and student visas in particular. “We have to have a proactive policy. We have to get the visa system right,” he said, adding that he hoped India too would recognise Britain’s ambitions for increased access to the good and services markets in India.

High Commissioner Sinha said he hoped the countries would continue to increase cooperation on intelligence sharing when it came to combating terrorism. “We have a very good beginning in anti-terrorism cooperation. Terrorism is one of the very important issues that concerns both India and the UK and I dare say the fountain head of terrorism is perhaps the same. But not withstanding that, I think we need to do much more when it comes to intelligence sharing cooperation.” He added that while issues such as visas posed a challenge to the relationship, they were “not insurmountable… We need to see how we can come up with a mutually win-win situation — the dialogue has already started.”

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Published on August 16, 2017
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