The emerging Indo-Pacific connect between India and the UK is set to get deeper in days to come, signalling new avenues in strategic alignment and cooperation in multilateral fora between the two countries.
“The UK sees a lot of potential to collaborate with India in the Indo-Pacific as the vision of both the countries for the region was “very closely aligned,” Acting British Commissioner to India Jan Thompson told journalists in New Delhi. Ms Thompson underlined that India-UK cooperation in the Indo-Pacific could encompass a wide array of issues, including maritime security, climate change and development cooperation. Enhanced engagement with the Indo-Pacific is set to be a major component of the 10-year roadmap being framed to further deepen the bilateral ties.
“We do see a lot of potential to collaborate with India in the Indo-Pacific region. Part of the UK’s new international approach is likely to have a very significant tilt around the Indo-Pacific,” she said at a virtual media briefing.
She stressed the vision of India and the UK was “very very closely aligned” as both the countries want to see a free and open Indo-Pacific region that supports the rules-based international system.
Amid its festering border standoff with China, India has stepped up its outreach to European countries for enhancing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Early this month, India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla travelled to Paris, Berlin and London to explore synergies with these key EU countries on the Indo-Pacific. In a big-picture speech at Policy Exchange in London, Mr Shringla said: “The UK, we hope and expect, will be next on the list, and too will finalise its Indo-Pacific strategy soon.” “Given this country’s characteristic wisdom and prodigious institutional memory, we hope too that the UK’s strategy will approximate India’s own and long-standing Indo-Pacific vision,” he said in a speech entitled “India’s Foreign Policy in a post-Covid World.”
“This is a propitious moment for the bilateral relationship in terms of the opportunity for multilateral engagement,” Ms Thompson said as the United Kingdom assumes presidency of the G7 in 2021 and India begins its eighth term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
The growing India-UK partnership will be telescoped in a likely visit by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Ms Thompson said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to visit India in the next few months, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also keen to come to the country. If a physical visit does not materialise due to pandemic, the two sides will be looking at a virtual summit between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart, said reliable sources.
Britain is also keen to expand convergence with India on the Indo-Pacific in view of its souring of relations with Beijing and London’s unease with Beijing’s alleged expansionist ambitions.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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