New Delhi: British PM Boris Johnson has cancelled his planned India visit later this month to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations due to the grim Covid-19 situation in Britain and the “speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading” that led to a fresh national lockdown, the British government said Tuesday, adding Mr Johnson had already spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to express his regret”. Mr Johnson hopes to visit India by June this year.
India is now expected to invite another foreign leader as chief guest for the January 26 parade.
New Delhi said Tuesday evening that in a phone conversation with Mr Modi, Mr Johnson “regretted his inability to attend … in view of the changed Covid-19 context prevailing in UK”, but said he was keen to “visit India in the near future”. New Delhi said “Prime Minister (Modi) expressed his understanding of the exceptional situation in the UK, and conveyed his best wishes for the quick control of the pandemic spread”, adding “he looked forward to receiving Prime Minister Johnson in India at the earliest opportunity after normalisation of the situation”.
The invitation to Mr Johnson was announced during British foreign secretary Dominic Raab’s visit to New Delhi last month.