A visit of a high-ranking UK delegation to India, consisting of members of different political parties and led by House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, was called off at the last moment by the Indian authorities, The Guardian reported on Thursday.
According to the article, the delegation of 10 high-ranking British officials had been in discussions with India since January and had plans to visit New Delhi and Rajasthan. The original goal of the delegation was reportedly to discuss a UK-India free trade deal, but the objective changed in the context of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine. The delegates were planning to persuade New Delhi to take a tougher stance towards Moscow, The Guardian says.
It was reported that the Indian High Commission changed its decision and raised objections at the last minute. It is unclear whether the Indian officials had issues with individual members of the delegation or were concerned in general about the British Parliament members that sought to persuade the Indian prime minister to take action against Russia, The Guardian reports.
On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a phone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The two leaders discussed the situation in Ukraine, as Modi called for the end of hostilities and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty. Modi informed his UK counterpart about India’s humanitarian support, while Johnson said both countries “should intensify efforts to promote peace and de-escalation in the region.”
India so far has not imposed sanctions nor denounced Moscow for the military action in Ukraine, and continues to buy Russian oil despite pressure from the international community. India has been reluctant to cut ties with Russia, and is currently discussing mechanisms to switch to ruble-rupee trade.
Last week, the UK representatives expressed disappointment over India’s neutral position towards Russia, but expressed hope that its views would change, as the nation continues to be a major trading partner for the UK.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in India on an unannounced visit for high-level talks with External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. It was presumed that the talks would center on the geopolitical situation amid the Russian military operation in Ukraine, while India was expected to continue discussions on the China-India territorial dispute in the Ladakh region, the Times of India reported.