Trade talks between India and Britain have not been suspended and will continue this year, three officials said on Monday, in response to a report in a British newspaper that said India had pulled out of the talks after London failed to condemn Sikh separatists.
An Indian foreign ministry official said that the progress of trade talks and New Delhi’s concerns about separatist Sikh activities in Britain should not be linked.
A British High Commission diplomatic official in New Delhi said trade talks will continue as planned and security officials in London are paying attention to India’s concerns about separatist Sikh activities in Britain.
“Both the United Kingdom and India are committed to an ambitious and mutually beneficial Free Trade Agreement and completed the final round of trade talks last month,” a trade ministry spokesman said.
“The secretary of state has condemned the recent acts of violence at the Indian High Commission, and we are working with the Metropolitan Police to review security and make changes to ensure the safety of personnel,” the spokesperson added.
New Delhi has been angered by protests and vandalism by Sikh separatists outside its mission in London and elsewhere in the United States and Canada.
Last month, protesters carrying banners in support of the so-called independent Sikh state “Khalistan” demonstrated in front of the Indian High Commission in London and brought down an Indian flag from the building’s balcony to denounce the recent police crackdown on a pro-Khalistan Sikh preacher.
The demand for Khalistan has seen a resurgence among sections of the Sikh population in India and overseas.
India summoned the top British diplomat in New Delhi last month to convey its” forceful protest ” against the incident in London.
The Foreign Ministry later said that India was not interested in commitments but wanted to see action.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said that acts of violence against high commission staff in London are unacceptable and that British police are investigating.
The Times newspaper reported on Monday that India has “disengaged” from the talks after accusing Britain of failing to condemn a Sikh separatist group.
A second Indian Foreign Ministry source said trade talks with Britain had not been suspended and called the media report “baseless”.
In total, Britain and India have a trade relationship of about £ 29 billion ($35.5 billion), and its expansion is an important part of Britain’s Indo-Pacific foreign policy, which aims to tighten ties with the region’s fast-growing economies.