The UK’s leader, basking in a warm reception, set his sights on bolstering global ties while keeping Britons at the forefront of his mind.
Eyebrows were raised when Mr Sunak’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suddenly relocated from the latter’s residence to the G20 summit itself.
A whirlwind 20-minute tête-à-tête followed, covering a myriad of topics, including a burgeoning trade deal.But it was hard to ignore that this rendezvous was notably shorter than the hour-long slot bestowed upon US President Joe Biden, who had the privilege of chatting from the comfort of Mr Modi’s home.
But Mr Sunak, fondly referred to as the “son-in-law of India”, was embraced by the nation’s people, who exude pride in his Indian heritage.
His secret weapon, his wife Akshata Murty, dazzled the city with her presence too. Pharmacist Asim Paul, 46, said: “In India, we pay respect to Rishi Sunak at the highest level.
It is a matter of pride and honour that he has reached such a top position.”
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“It makes me feel proud that his wife is Indian too. We also welcome that she’s here. “We’re hopeful the ties between the UK and India will get stronger, and the bonding between Mr. Modi and Mr. Sunak is an added factor.
We want the relationship to prosper.” The dynamic duo of Mr Sunak and Mrs Murty left no stone unturned, capturing hearts of children and STEM teachers at the British Council.
Their journey through the city’s eerily quiet streets also led them to a moment of private reflection at the majestic Akshardham temple, where, as practicing Hindus, they joined in Sanskrit singing during their prayer offerings.
The whistle-stop tour was not short of photo opportunities and journalists’ inboxes weren’t void of announcements either, with a whopping £1.6 billion going towards climate funding and the signing of a strategic partnership with Singapore.
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Mr Sunak tempered expectations early by emphasising that a trade deal with India was “not a given,” quelling any notion of a historic handshake between the two countries.
With the agreement off the table, all eyes turned to the possibility of an encounter with Chinese Premier Li Qiang or Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov.
Mr Sunak used his time in Delhi to call out Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a key topic at the summit. The moment some had been waiting for arrived soon before the Government’s flag-carrying jet took off.
Mr Sunak said he confronted Li Qiang over his “significant concerns about Chinese interference in the UK’s parliamentary democracy”.
Although the G20 summit has come to an end, the UK’s defence against Russia and China continues.
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