The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said the issue of normalising foreign travel of Indian citizens is being taken up with authorities of various countries and noted that some of them have taken positive steps on it in view of the significant improvement in the Covid-19 situation in India.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the government will continue to push for further measures from countries to ease Indians’ travel abroad.
“We attach great importance to these issues of easing travel restrictions. The issue of normalising travel of Indian citizens abroad has been and is being taken up with the concerned authorities in other countries,” he said at an online briefing.
“Given that there has been a significant improvement in the Covid-19 situation in India, we have seen some countries taking positive steps in this regard. We will continue to press for further measures from all the other countries,” Bagchi said.
Asked about the United Kingdom’s donation of 10 million vaccines to the Commonwealth and Asian countries, he said the announcement does not cover India.
Asked about US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement on Wednesday that his country will provide USD 25 million to support India’s vaccination programme, Bagchi referred to the statement issued by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) which outlines the details.
“India and the US are engaged as part of the Quad vaccine initiative to supply vaccines to countries in the Indo-Pacific region from early 2022. India stands united with the US and several partners in working towards containing the Covid pandemic and for quick global economic recovery,” he said.
On import of vaccines from the US, he said India’s health regulators are engaged with foreign vaccine manufacturers in this regard.
Asked about the impending WHO approval for Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, Bagchi said the company had submitted its request along with all necessary documentation earlier in July to the WHO.
“I would refer you to the company for further updates including on the issue of supply of Covaxin to Brazil,” he said.
To a query on the status of resumption of India-EU talks on free trade agreement (FTA), Bagchi said the discussions are progressing as per our expectations and there have been formal discussions and exchanges between officials.
“India is waiting for the formal nominations of EU’s chief negotiator. Formal negotiations are expected to resume after the summer break in Europe. Meanwhile, India is going ahead with its own preparations for these discussions,” he said.
Asked about Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s UK visit on July 23-24, Bagchi said his visit was to conduct a review of the comprehensive strategic partnership launched at the India-UK Virtual Summit between the two prime ministers on May 4.
“Foreign Secretary held detailed meetings with his counterparts and also met a cross-section of opinion builders including think tanks and parliamentarians,” he said.
In the discussions, the implementation of the India-UK Roadmap 2030 was assessed, he said.
“Several issues of bilateral interest including implementation of the migration and mobility partnership, global innovation partnership, climate action, return of economic offenders, defence and security ties, regional issues including Afghanistan, UNSC and Commonwealth matters were discussed,” Bagchi said.
The need for early removal of restrictions imposed on travel from India and the mutual recognition of Covid-19 vaccination certificates was raised, he added.