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India tops foreign policy agenda in Queen’s speech

Queen Elizabeth II, unveiling the priorities of Britain’s coalition government, on Tuesday set out the prospects of an “enhanced partnership” between India and Britain in what is possibly the first such mention of India at the traditional opening of the country’s parliament, reports Dipankar De Sarkar.

world Updated: May 26, 2010 02:16 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Queen Elizabeth II, unveiling the priorities of Britain’s coalition government, on Tuesday set out the prospects of an “enhanced partnership” between India and Britain in what is possibly the first such mention of India at the traditional opening of the country’s parliament.

“My government looks forward to an enhanced partnership with India,” the British monarch said in the section of her speech dealing with the foreign policy priorities of the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government.

Mentions of another country, except for the US, in such positive light are rare in the Queen’s speech, where foreign policy priorities are usually framed in the context of wars and conflicts.

Over the past 15 years, the Queen has mentioned a host of problematic countries, including Kosovo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, North Korea, Iraq, Sudan and the Middle East. The US is usually mentioned in the context of the Anglo-American special relationship. And there are ritual references to Europe and to her upcoming state visits.

But her 56th parliament opening speech marked a departure — this is possibly the first time a British government has put forth plans to scale up ties with another country so clearly. It follows the Conservative party’s election pledge to build a “new special relationship” with India — another first.

British government sources said India gets special attention as its growing economy is seen as “critical” to the government’s objectives. London is hoping the “deep and historical ties” between Britain and India will help it make the most of India's strategic importance.