To Unlock The Opportunities
British Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is all set to visit India at the end of April 2021. He was scheduled to attend India’s Republic Day Celebration as the Chief Guest on January 26. However, he had to cancel the trip due to deteriorating COVID-19 situation in Britain. The purpose of his upcoming visit may be termed as one of a markedly different sort. This will be his first visit to the South Asian Nation since Britain left the European Union (EU). According to sources close to 10, Downing Street, PM Johnson would discuss various aspects of bilateral diplomatic, trade and defence ties with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi. In other words, the visit is aimed at strengthening ties between Britain and India.
Meanwhile, experts are of the opinion that the British premier’s upcoming tour is focused mainly on the Indo-Pacific Region, as this area is strategically important for the UK! In recent times, PM Johnson has hinted that Britain would boost ties with India in an attempt to get a better access to the Indo-Pacific Region. It may be noted that a number of countries, including the US, have already begun surveillance in this Region in order to counter China’s increasing influence there. The Johnson Government in London, too, plans to focus on the Indo-Pacific, keeping in mind the geopolitical location of the region. Apart from India, Britain is also holding talks with the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
In an article published on March 16, The Hindu daily stated: “A central foreign policy shift included in the review is a definitive tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region as the ‘geopolitical centre of the world’, which includes the UK applying for partner status of the ASEAN economic union – of which India is a sectoral dialogue partner.” Earlier, the 10, Downing Street had issued a statement, saying: “This year, the Queen Elizabeth Carrier will undertake its first operational deployment to the region alongside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies, the UK is applying for partner status at the ASEAN and at the end of April, the Prime Minister will travel to India on his first major international visit following our departure from the European Union (EU).”
Kanwal Sibal, the former Foreign Secretary of India, believes that it is the time for India to send a strong message to Britain. In an article published in Hindustan Times daily on March 17, he wrote that London, stuck in its colonial mindset and often disrespectful of Indian sovereignty, must get its India Policy right.
According to Sibal, “Post-Brexit, Global Britain has to get its ‘Asia Policy’ right. For that, it has to get its ‘India Policy’ right. For it to be a credible Global Broker, honesty is a prerequisite.” The veteran diplomat has said so, as Britain has issued various statements on India’s internal issues in recent times…
It seems that PM Johnson has a tough task ahead, diplomatically, during his trip to India!
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