UK PM Boris Johnson reduces length of India visit due to COVID situation
A British aircraft, Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, will be deployed to the region ahead of PM Boris Johnson's visit to India.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly reduced the length of his trip to India due to the severe COVID situation in the country. He is scheduled to arrive in India later this month to boost UK's opportunities and counter China's influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
The UK PM will be meeting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, his remaining schedule is yet to confirmed. His spokesperson said that they have been in close contact with the Indian government about the PM's upcoming visit in light of the COVID situation in India. He added that the Prime Minister took the decision to reduce the length of the visit after the discussions.
The British Government also highlighted that a British aircraft will be deployed to the region ahead of PM Boris Johnson's visit to India. The government called the Indo-Pacific region increasingly the geopolitical centre of the world.
•The British Prime Minister was initially supposed to visit India in January to be the chief guest at India's Republic Day Celebrations on January 26, 2021. However, Johnson had cancelled his visit due to a major spike in the COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom.
•He will now visit India in April to strengthen India-UK relations and counter China. Johnson reportedly aims to increase focus on UK's place in the world and the ability to seize the opportunities ahead.
•With his visit shortened, the focus is likely to be on high level discussions with the Indian government and Indian business leaders. A bulk of the programme will now take place on April 26th.
•The relations between the UK and China have strained due to issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, controversial Hong Kong national security law and denying China's Huawei an active role in Britain's 5G network.
•The deployment of British aircraft- Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier-is expected to further raise military tensions in the South China Sea.
UK Government Foreign Policy Priorities
•The UK government will be laying the country's post-Brexit defence and foreign policy priorities on March 16 with an objective to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region while preserving its strong relations with the United States.
•A statement previewing the report listed the importance of the UK's relationship with the US alongside the defence of democracy and human rights and safety from terrorism as fundamental components of the British policy.
•Britain seeks to establish a trade deal with the United States and reassurance over where it is placed in US President Joe Biden's international priorities.
Britain will be holding two influential roles this year including hosting the first post-pandemic G7 summit in June 2021 and the COP26 climate conference in November.
Boris Johnson's government has vowed to define a new era for the country post its exit from the European Union last year. An integrated review will be conducted, which will show that Britain still has an influence on the world stage.
The 100-page review document will be closely scrutinised for concrete measures showing how the government will deliver at a time when the country is struggling to come to terms with the realities of Brexit and the large number of fatalities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.