Republic day chief guest, UK PM Boris Johnson cancels visit to India

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was the chief guest at Republic Day, has cancelled his visit to India, reports said on Tuesday.

Reuters reported that Boris Johnson has said that he needs to be in the country to oversee Coronavirus response.

The British Prime Minister spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed his regret over not being able to visit India as planned for Republic Day on January 26 due to the growing COVID-19 crisis, PTI reported.

A Downing Street spokesperson was quoted saying, “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. 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.”

Boris 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.

On Monday, Johnson 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 Coronavirus infection rates.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was on India visit last month, had confirmed that Johnson would be the chief guest at the Republic Day ceremony on January 26.

“I am pleased that PM Boris Johnson has invited PM Modi to join the UK-hosted G7 summit next year. UK Prime Minister Johnson has also accepted the very generous invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in January, which is a great honour,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said during a press conference.

More details awaited.

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