As he scheduled for a five-day, five-city tour of India beginning on Monday, UK minister Lord Tariq Ahmad said India’s position as the world’s pharmacy during the coronavirus disease outbreak has been magnificent.
Lord Ahmad, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office’s (FCDO) minister for South Asia stressed the two countries’ strong cooperation in ensuring supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, which support countries all over the world through the UN-led COVAX system.
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“The role that India has played as the pharmacy of the world has been phenomenal,” said Lord Ahmad. It was during a pre-visit virtual interview on Friday.
“Our relationship with India is not just one of bilateral importance, it’s also about how these two countries are working together and there’s no better illustration than the current COVID-19 pandemic which grips us. The strong collaboration we have seen between the UK and India in responding across the world, including through the COVAX facility which is helping the more vulnerable countries in the world,” he said.
“Equally, we are looking forward to furthering cooperation with India in its tenure as a Security Council member. Environment and climate change, healthcare, technology – the relationship between the UK and India is an important one across all these sectors and more,” Ahmad added.
Mr. Johnson’s trip to India will be accompanied by Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s trip to the UK in June for the G7 Summit in Cornwall, where India is among the invited guest nations.
“My very intensive and full program reflects the incredible diversity that is India, and all its fantastic and incredible states and reflects the wide nature of the relationship and the bilateral engagement we have with one of our close partners,” said the minister, whose father’s roots trace back to Punjab and mother’s to Rajasthan.
“It can be taken as read in as much as government policy is concerned, there is a very strong belief and focus on the Indo-Pacific tilt and it’s right we do so. When you look at the countries within that part of the region, India is foremost in our minds,” Mr. Ahmad said.
“We’ve always been consistently clear on matters such as these protests, it’s an internal matter,” he said.
“Our position as a government is that the protests have been taking place for several months now and India as democracy has totally guaranteed and secured the right to protest, which we fully acknowledge. There have been occasions where people have sought to disrupt those protests and that should be dealt with in accordance with the rule of law,” Ahmad said.