British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (File photo)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (File photo)

UK PM Boris Johnson to visit India in April as part of tilt towards Indo-Pacific

This will be Johnson’s first major international visit following Britain’s departure from the EU. He was earlier set to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in January, but called off the visit to remain in Britain to focus on the response to a new Coronavirus variant
PUBLISHED ON MAR 16, 2021 03:14 PM IST

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to visit India in April as part of his government’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific in order to unlock new opportunities in the region, his office announced on Tuesday.

London will on Tuesday unveil its widely anticipated integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, which was first announced after the 2019 election in Britain as “the most radical assessment of the UK’s place in the world since the end of the Cold War”.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office in London said the integrated review will set out some shifts in foreign policy, including a “tilt to the Indo-Pacific”, and that Johnson will visit India at the end of April to “unlock opportunities in the region”.

This will be Johnson’s first major international visit following Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU).

Johnson was earlier set to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in January, but called off the visit to remain in Britain to focus on the response to a new Coronavirus variant. At the time, the UK had announced that Johnson hoped to visit India in the first half of 2021, and ahead of the UK’s G7 Summit in June that Modi is due to attend as a guest.

Also Read | Johnson says UK will become a global activist after Brexit

The British high commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, played a key role in drafting the integrated review in his previous role as deputy national security advisor.

The statement described the Indo-Pacific as “increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world”, and noted that aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will undertake its first operational deployment to the region this year. The UK is also applying for partner status at the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) as part of this foreign policy shift.

The deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s largest warship, and its strike task group to the Indian Ocean has been described by officials as the country’s “most ambitious deployment for two decades”.

The 100-page integrated review, which addresses issues related to national security, foreign policy and the global economy, is meant to implement Johnson’s “Global Britain” agenda. It will also set out his vision for the UK in 2030 and how international policy can be shaped to achieve this.

The reset of Britain’s international priorities with a tilt to the Indo-Pacific is also aimed at creating a democratic counterweight to China, The Guardian reported last week.

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