The proudest example of the UK-India partnership is on COVID-19 and both countries want to make sure the most vulnerable countries around the world get equitable distribution and access to the vaccine against the virus, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday. His assertion of strengthening ties with India in a host of fields, including in the health sector, came after his talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Oxford University, AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute India have been working closely together on the vaccine front and the institute is now planning to produce one billion doses of the Oxford vaccine by the end of next year, many of which will be destined for low and middle income countries, Raab said at the joint press event after the talks. "That is the UK and India working together to transform people's lives around the world. We want to take advantage of these vaccines, not only for our own people but to make sure the most vulnerable and poorest countries around the world get equitable distribution and access," he said.
Perhaps, the proudest example of our partnership today is on COVID-19, Raab said. In these areas, and many others, the Indo-UK partnership can be a force for good in the world at large, he asserted.
In his remarks, Jaishankar said that during the course of the year, the foreign secretary and he had been telephonically discussing both COVID challenges and their economic implications. "Today's meeting gave us an opportunity to exchange notes and update ourselves on those issues. It is important that India and UK strengthen their collaboration to hasten their post-COVID economic recovery," he said. Jaishankar said his talks with Raab focused on five broad themes -- connecting people, trade and prosperity, defence and security, climate, and health. "Apart from senior officials of the foreign ministry, including the foreign secretary, who joined us today, I was also accompanied by the principal scientific advisor who as many of you would know coordinates our vaccine response that was something which was discussed in great detail," he said.
Raab also said that the UK wants to deepen its partnership with India in education, research and innovation. "Our countries are both leaders in these fields. It is an area of complementarity, but also comparative advantage and I think there is a huge scope for further collaboration together in a collaborative international setting," he said. "In the UK we give a warm welcome to thousands of Indian students and academics each year," Raab said.
The Indian students make an incredible contribution to the country and the UK feels they are very valued guests and "we prize the contribution they make", he said.