Johnson, Modi discuss opening up international travel, UK's recognition of Indian vaccine certification


New Delhi/London, (UNI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke on the phone today during which they discussed the Afghan situation, and also the importance of opening up international travel and “agreed the UK’s recognition of Indian vaccine certification is a welcome development to that end”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a tweet on the talk with his British counterpart, said: “Was a pleasure to speak to Prime Minister @BorisJohnson.

“We reviewed progress on the India-UK Agenda 2030, exchanged views on climate action in the context of the forthcoming COP-26 in Glasgow, and shared our assessments on regional issues including Afghanistan.”

While there is no mention of the vaccine certification row in the Indian government's readout of the talks, it finds mention in the UK government statement.

The British government’s recognition of India’s vaccine certification came on October 7 night, after protracted negotiations and in the wake of India slapping reciprocal quarantine measures on vaccinated UK citizens travelling to India.

“The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Modi discussed the shared fight against coronavirus and the importance of cautiously opening up international travel. They agreed the UK’s recognition of Indian vaccine certification is a welcome development to that end,” it said.

The telephone between Modi and Johnson comes after British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called up External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar last Friday and discussed “facilitating travel” between the two countries. Her call came hours after the UK announced withdrawal of mandatory quarantine measures on vaccinated Indian travellers. Though Jaishankar has said that the two “agreed to facilitate travel between our two countries”, there is no word towards that from the Indian government so far.

Last Thursday night, the UK announced that from Monday, October 11, Indian travellers to Britain double-jabbed with Covishield do not have to quarantine on arrival.

On Afghanistan, the UK government readout says the two leaders agreed on the need for a coordinated international approach to engagement with the Taliban and emphasized the importance of upholding human rights in Afghanistan.

The discussion on Afghanistan comes a day ahead of the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on Afghanistan on Tuesday called by Italy, the current G20 president.

The UK government readout said: “The leaders also talked about the current situation in Afghanistan. They agreed on the need for a coordinated international approach to engagement with the Taliban, emphasising the importance of upholding human rights in the country.”

A Ministry of External Affairs statement on the talks says: “The two leaders reviewed the progress in bilateral relations since their virtual summit earlier this year, and expressed satisfaction at the steps already initiated under the Roadmap 2030 adopted during the virtual summit. They also reviewed the progress of the Enhanced Trade Partnership and agreed on the potential of rapidly expanding trade and investment linkages between both countries.

“The leaders had extensive discussion on issues related to Climate Change, in the context of the forthcoming UNFCCC COP-26 meeting in Glasgow in early November 2021. Prime Minister Modi conveyed India's commitment to Climate Action, as seen in its ambitious target for expansion of renewable energy and the recently announced National Hydrogen Mission.

“The leaders also exchanged views on regional developments, especially the situation in Afghanistan. In this context, they agreed on the need to develop a common international perspective on issues regarding extremism and terrorism, as well as Human Rights and rights of women and minorities,”.

The UK government readout says the two leaders discussed the strength of the UK-India relationship and welcomed the progress made on the 2030 Roadmap since it was agreed by Prime Minister Johnson and Prime Minister Modi in May. This includes in areas such as trade and defence.

“The leaders looked forward to the upcoming visit of the UK Carrier Strike Group to India and the deepening of the UK-India strategic partnership.

“The Prime Minister underlined the importance of making concrete progress on climate change ahead of and at the upcoming COP26 Summit. He noted that India already lead the world in renewable technology and expressed his hope that they will commit to a more ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution and to achieving Net Zero emissions,” it said.