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UK wants to line up more AUKUS-style deals

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-10-12 09:20

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stands outside Chevening House in Chevening, Kent, Britain, Oct 11, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

The United Kingdom will start an international charm offensive with the aim of resetting foreign and trade policies and forging more security and technology pacts, the Reuters news agency has reported.

It said Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wants to strike deals that are similar to the AUKUS pact that London inked recently with Australia and the United States.

The Financial Times said Truss plans to start by visiting capital cities in European Union nations, with the goal of improving diplomatic relations.

The FT said Foreign and Commonwealth Office insiders with knowledge of her plans said she will focus her attention on countries in regions that have the biggest impact on the UK's security and commercial interests.

The Daily Express newspaper said Truss, who was made foreign secretary in a Cabinet reshuffle on Sept 15, is particularly interested in building stronger relations with smaller states.

The paper quoted an unnamed official from Truss's department as saying: "Liz believes the way to challenge our adversaries and boost Britain's global influence is to build deeper economic ties with other countries… She's focused on deepening trade links, forging new tech partnerships, and working with allies to increase infrastructure into developing countries."

The official said Truss is interested in improving ties in not only Europe but the "Indo-Pacific region", and is eyeing more cooperation with Australia, India, Indonesia, and Japan.

Critics have said she might be better served, for now, to focus on deteriorating ties close to home, after disputes flared recently with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Republic of Ireland's foreign minister, Simon Coveney, told RTE's Morning Ireland program on Monday the UK's insistence on trying to remove European Court of Justice oversight of the protocol amounts to a new red line.

"Each time the EU comes forward with new ideas, new proposals to try to solve problems, they are dismissed before they are released and that is happening again this week," he said.

Meanwhile, Truss's department was heavily involved in the UK's latest relaxation of its novel coronavirus travel restrictions, which took effect on Monday at 4 am.

The change means travel to and from an additional 47 countries will be straightforward for people who have been fully vaccinated. The relaxation means the so-called green list now extends to 90 nations and territories; with only Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela remaining on the red list.

Sky News quoted Truss as saying the relaxation means people will be able to "exercise personal responsibility".

The UK government hopes the move will boost the UK economy by boosting both tourism and business travel.

The BBC said passenger numbers at Heathrow Airport in September were 38 percent of the pre-pandemic level.

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