During his four-day official visit to the UK, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar observed Diwali by participating in prayers at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Neasden Temple) in London. This Hindu temple stands as Europe’s first authentic and traditionally constructed temple of its kind. Accompanied by his wife, Kyoko Jaishankar, the EAM engaged in the Abhishek Puja during the visit to the Neasden Temple, underscoring the cultural connections that play a crucial role in advancing bilateral relations between India and the UK, promoting shared political and economic interests.
In addition to the Diwali celebration at the temple, EAM Jaishankar met with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife, Akshata Murty, at 10 Downing Street. During this meeting, he conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Diwali wishes and presented gifts, including a Lord Ganesha statue and a cricket bat signed by renowned Indian cricketer Virat Kohli. Expressing his delight on social media, Jaishankar highlighted the active engagement between India and the UK in reshaping their relationship for contemporary times.
Currently on an official visit to the United Kingdom, Jaishankar’s trip aims to strengthen the growing bilateral partnership, particularly emphasized by the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership launched in 2021. The visit underscores the warm and thriving relationship between the two nations, with a commitment to a partnership that benefits both countries, as outlined in the India-UK Roadmap 2030. Jaishankar’s meetings with various dignitaries during this visit, scheduled to conclude on November 15, are expected to provide new impetus to the friendly ties between India and the UK.
A significant aspect of India-UK relations is the ongoing negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Talks for the FTA began in 2022, with the 12th round of negotiations taking place from August 8-31 this year. The MEA’s release emphasizes the growing bilateral partnership, and Jaishankar’s visit is anticipated to contribute to strengthening the ties between the two countries.