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Boris Johnson Dials PM Modi, Expresses Regret For Calling Off Republic Day Visit Over Covid Crisis in UK

The UK prime minister’s post-Brexit visit to India was scheduled for January 26, as the chief guest at the annual Republic Day celebrations.

Updated: January 5, 2021 10:55 PM IST

By News Desk | Edited by Victor Dasgupta

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his UK counterpart Boris Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called PM Modi to express regret that he had to call off his India visit for Republic Day celebrations due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation of the United Kingdom. According to the Prime Minister Office (PMO) Johnson reiterated his thanks for India’s invitation for him as Chief Guest of Republic Day celebrations but regretted his inability to attend in view of changed COVID-19 context prevailing in UK.

“PM of UK Boris Johnson reiterated his keenness to visit India in the near future. 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,” PMO added.

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During the call, the leaders also talked about their “shared commitment to the bilateral relationship” and will continue to develop the close association between the countries including the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK prime minister’s post-Brexit visit to India was scheduled for January 26, as the chief guest at the annual Republic Day celebrations.

Johnson’s call with PM Modi came a day after he addressed Britain in a televised address to plunge the country into a new stay-at-home lockdown as his medical chiefs warned that the National Health Service (NHS) was under threat of being overwhelmed by the rising infection rates.

Johnson has indicated that his India visit would take place during the first half of this year and before the G7 summit presided over by the UK, planned for later this year.

‘The Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Modi this morning, to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned,’ a Downing Street spokesperson said.

‘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 spokesperson said.

The two 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 Prime Minister said that he hopes to be able to visit India in the first half of 2021, and ahead of the UK’s G7 Summit that Prime Minister Modi is due to attend as a guest,” the spokesperson said.

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