New Delhi (NVI): UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today cancelled his visit to India that was scheduled for later this month amid concerns over the new Covid-19 strain and a fresh nationwide lockdown imposed in Britain.
The UK PM was to be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade on January 26 in New Delhi.
Boris Johnson had announced a nationwide lockdown in the United Kingdom last night, amid concerns over the rapid spread of the new strain of coronavirus.
According to UK PM’s Office, 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned.
“In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus,” the UK PM’s office said in a statement.
On the conversation between the two PMs, 10 Downing Street said, “The leaders underlined their shared commitment to the bilateral relationship, and to continuing to build on the close collaboration between our countries – including in response to the pandemic.”
The UK PM’s office further said that he is now hoping to visit India in the first half of 2021, ahead of the UK’s G7 Summit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to attend as a guest.
In India, the Prime Minister’s Office also released a statement on the telephonic conversation between the two leaders, later in the day.
“Prime Minister Johnson reiterated his thanks for India’s invitation for him as the Chief Guest of the forthcoming Republic Day celebrations, but regretted his inability to attend in view of the changed COVID-19 context prevailing in the UK. He reiterated his keenness to visit India in the near future,” the PMO said in a statement.
It said that PM Modi expressed his understanding of the exceptional situation in the UK, and conveyed his best wishes for the quick control of the pandemic spread, during conversation with his British counterpart. “He looked forward to receiving Prime Minister Johnson in India at the earliest opportunity after normalisation of the situation,” read the statement.
“The leaders reviewed ongoing cooperation between both countries, including in the area of making COVID-19 vaccines available for the world. They reiterated their shared belief in the potential of the India-UK partnership in the post-BREXIT, post-COVID context, and agreed to work towards a comprehensive roadmap for realising this potential,” PMO added.