British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his visit to India due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis in the country, said a joint statement released by Ministry of External Affairs and Britain government. His visit was scheduled for April 25.
The Ministry of External Affairs statement said that Johnson will hold a virtual meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month to discuss bilateral ties and UK-India partnership strategies.
In response to the media queries regarding Johnson’s visit to India, Arindam Bagchi, the official MEA Spokesperson said that in view of the prevailing Covid situation, it has been decided by mutual agreement that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will not visit India next week. The two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship. Both leaders attach the highest importance to taking the India-UK partnership to its fullest potential and propose to remain in close touch in this regard and look forward to an in-person meeting later in the year.
Johnson had already postponed the trip once in January as the Republic Day chief guest due to restrictions imposed in the United Kingdom in the wake of the country-wide lockdown in the British Isles over the more virulent mutant coronavirus.
This was also to be Johnson’s first bilateral visit after the UK’s departure from the European Union in December 2020. In the past, members of the British royalty have been chief guests — Prince Philip in 1959 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1961. British chancellor of exchequer Rap Butler in 1956 and Chief of Defence Staff Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1964.
India reported 2,73,810 new cases of Covid-19 infections and 1,619 deaths on Monday. Now India’s caseload stands at 1.5 crore.