Rishi Sunak and wife Akshata Murty welcomed to 'near and dear' India

Despite a warm welcome, Rishi Sunak knows a tough agenda lies ahead when the G20 leaders get down to the business of the summit, as ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports

Rishi Sunak has hailed his trip to India as "personally really special" after his arrival in New Delhi with his wife Akshata Murty ahead of the G20 leaders’ summit.

Mrs Murty, daughter of billionaire Indian IT giant Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murty, and the PM were greeted by traditional dancers and music as they disembarked from RAF Voyager at Indira Gandhi Airport.

The couple later met with and spoke to local children during a visit to the British Council in New Delhi.

They were given sports tops with their surnames on the back, which Mrs Murty said she planned to wear the next time she goes running.

Akshata Murty plays football during a visit to meet schoolchildren in New Delhi. Credit: PA

Mr Sunak has stressed that the meeting of world leaders will have a serious focus, amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The PM said he plans to use the summit to “put pressure” on Moscow, amid global concerns over the blockade of grain out of Ukraine.

“One of the priorities I have being here is to highlight the impact of Russia’s war on millions of vulnerable people around the world. And that’s the impact of food prices,” he told broadcasters.

Sunak condemned Russia’s decision to pull out of the Black Sea Grain initiative, which allowed ships carrying grain to leave southern Ukrainian ports without fear of attack, in July.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a ‘huddle’ press conference Credit: Dan Kitwood/PA

“Russia’s pulled out of that deal, you’ve seen prices go up and typically that has an impact, not just at home in the UK, but as I said, on millions of vulnerable people," he said.

“I’ll be highlighting that devastating impact so that people are aware of what’s happening and put pressure on Russia to cease attacking civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”

Mr Putin has said the deal, brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, will not be restored until the West meets Moscow’s demands on its own agricultural exports.

The pact, first signed in July 2022 and extended every three months for a year, led to 33 million tonnes of grain and food exports leaving Ukraine, with the majority going to developing nations struggling for food supplies, according to the UN.

Putin has opted not to attend the New Delhi gathering in person but his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is expected to attend.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty meet local schoolchildren at the British Council. Credit: PA

The PM and his wife spoke with Alex Ellis, the British high commissioner to India, and Indian minister of state Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey before visiting the British Council in New Delhi.

Speaking to reporters on the flight from London to the Indian capital, the Conservative Party leader, who is the first British prime minister of Indian descent, spoke about how “special” it was to return to a country that is “very near and dear” to him.

“I saw somewhere that I was referred to as India’s son-in-law, which I hope was meant affectionately," he said.

He revealed it was his first time returning to India in more than three years. Sunak, who is a practising Hindu, told reporters the trip was "obviously special".

ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks reports from Delhi, where the PM is attending the G20 summit

The G20 summit will take place on Saturday and Sunday, with Sunak expected to speak on the topics of migration, the global economy, the Ukraine conflict and climate change.

The summit in India marks the gathering of leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies.

Leaders of the G20, which includes the European Union and the likes of China, the US, Brazil and Russia, began holding summits following the 2008 global financial crisis, creating a top-level forum to discuss international challenges.

There are no set plans for the UK leader to meet with Chinese premier Li Qiang, who is representing Beijing at the summit in president Xi Jinping’s absence, but No 10 has not shut down the possibility of a short interaction between the pair.

The weekend itinerary for Sunak will see him visit important Indian cultural and religious sites, with a trip to a Hindu temple planned during his stay.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...