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Jaishankar visits Swaminarayan temple, interacts with Indian community in UK

The visit came just after Jaishankar was invited for Diwali tea at Downing Street with British Prime Minister Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty on Sunday.

Praying for peace and harmony for Indians across the world, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London on Diwali as part of his five-day visit to the UK.

“Blessed to visit the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Deepavali. Prayed for the peace, harmony and prosperity of our community around the world,” Jaishankar, who was accompanied by his wife, wrote on platform X.

The minister also spoke to the Indian community there and thanked them for their contributions that “are raising our profile around the world”.

Also known as the Neasden Temple, the BAPS temple thanked the minister for taking time out to meet the devotees and taking part in the Diwali celebrations.

“Thank you @DrSJaishankar for taking time out to join the #Diwali celebrations at #NeasdenTemple today. We appreciate your kind words, which inspired the thousands of devotees and visitors from the local community who had joined the celebrations,” the temple wrote in a message posted on X.

“May the #LivingBridge between Great Britain and Great Bharat grow and glow from strength to strength,” it added.

The visit came just after he was invited for Diwali tea at Downing Street with British Prime Minister Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty on Sunday.

Delighted to call on Prime Minister @RishiSunak on #Diwali Day. Conveyed the best wishes of PM @narendramodi. India and UK are actively engaged in reframing the relationship for contemporary times. Thank Mr and Mrs Sunak for their warm reception and gracious hospitality,” Jaishankar wrote on X.

During his visit, which began on November 11, Jaishankar will be holding discussions with his counterpart, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, and will meet several other dignitaries.

He is also expected to address a Diwali reception organised by the High Commission of India in London on Monday and attend an event at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

In the coming days, he is also expected at a repatriation ceremony for two ancient temple sculptures from Uttar Pradesh.

The visit is significant as India and the UK have been negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) since January last year in an attempt to better the estimated GBP 36-billion bilateral trading partnership.

“EAM’s (External Affairs Minister) visit will give a new impetus to the friendly ties between the two countries. India and the UK share a warm and thriving relationship. The India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership was launched in 2021 along with the India-UK Roadmap 2030. The road map is a commitment to a partnership that delivers for both the countries,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Jaishankar’s visit concludes on November 15.