Hague heads to Washington

By Alex Stevenson

William Hague is visiting US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Washington as he makes his first overseas trip as foreign secretary.

The former Conservative leader had received a phone call from Ms Clinton shortly after he entered the Foreign Office, mirroring US president Barack Obama being one of the first foreign leaders to congratulate prime minister David Cameron on his entry into Downing Street.

Mr Hague has said he will be prioritising the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and concerns about Iran’s apparent development of a nuclear arsenal on the trip.

The foreign secretary is expected to try and maintain Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with the US, while mirroring Mrs Clinton’s approach of looking further afield to develop alliances with countries like India and China.

The Conservatives’ coalition partners, the Lib Dems, had developed a much more anti-American foreign policy stance. But the absence of former Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey from the government suggests that approach is being quietly downplayed.

Foreign policy issues were not covered in the coalition agreement published earlier this week by the Tories and the Lib Dems. Their position is expected to be clarified later this week.

The Independent newspaper reported that divisions over Europe had to be quickly papered over within the government.

It said differences between the parties on Europe, as well as on the fixed-term parliament proposals, would be dealt with by a committee led by Mr Cameron and his deputy prime minister, the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.