Truss to visit India on March 31

Truss would also participate in the inaugural edition of the India-UK Strategic Futures Forum, a track 1.5 Dialogue between the two countries

Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss will visit India on March 31 against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Announcing the visit, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Truss will hold consultations with her Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

There has been a flurry of visits to India of several Western leaders, including the Foreign Ministers of Austria and Greece and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, in the last few weeks.

The unfolding situation in Ukraine is likely to be discussed extensively during Truss’s talks with Jaishankar.

“The visit will also serve to further deepen our partnership across various sectors such as trade and investment, science, technology and innovation, defence and security, climate cooperation, education and digital communications,” the MEA said in a statement.

It said Truss would also participate in the inaugural edition of the India-UK Strategic Futures Forum, a track 1.5 Dialogue between the two countries.

The India-UK relationship was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the India-UK virtual summit held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson in May last year.

At the summit, the two sides adopted a 10-year-roadmap to expand ties in the key areas of trade and economy, defence and security, climate change and people-to-people connections, among others.

This would be the second visit for Truss to India since the virtual summit.

The MEA said Truss’s visit would also provide an opportunity to assess the progress on the ‘Roadmap 2030’.

The Indian side will also host Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, the day Truss is expected to arrive in New Delhi. Lavrov is expected to hold bilateral talks and attend a meeting of foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries in China during March 30-31. This is the third such meeting being hosted by Beijing and is set to be attended by representatives of Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

In New Delhi, Lavrov is expected to hold talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar on April 1. The people cited above said the agenda for the visit and other meetings were still being firmed up. However, the conflict in Ukraine and its fallout is expected to figure in the discussions, they said.

For the Russian side, the relationship with India – one of the few countries that has not publicly criticised President Vladimir Putin’s military operation against Ukraine – is seen as crucial. The Russian side appreciates the position adopted by the Indian side at forums such as the UN, the people said.

The two sides are expected to discuss alternative payment mechanisms for defence and other deals to address the impact of crippling sanctions imposed on Russian banks and entities by the US and its allies.

Besides big ticket defence deals that are underway, such as the $5.4-billion contract for S-400 air defence systems, India is also considering a Russian offer to supply oil and other commodities at discounted rates. A group of representatives of different ministries, headed by the finance minister, is assessing the possible impact of Western sanctions on India.

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