Covid-19 pandemic crisis cuts Boris Johnson’s India visit short

Covid-19 pandemic crisis cuts Boris Johnson’s India visit short

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been forced to cut short his planned visit to India at the end of the month due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation in India.

The UK PM was to spend a few days in India starting April 26 as part of a planned itinerary, which is expected to include finalising a UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership. However, the pandemic crisis in India has forced a change in that schedule and is now likely to be include a more curtailed plan centred around talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Shorter programme

The UK PM’s Downing Street spokesperson said: “We have been in close contact with the Indian government about the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit in light of the Covid situation in India. As a result of these discussions the Prime Minister has made the decision to reduce the length of the visit, due to take place at the end of this month, to a shorter programme in New Delhi

“This programme will be focused on high level discussions with the Indian government and Indian business leaders. We’ll set out more details in due course, but the visit will include a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi.

"As with all the Prime Minister’s visits, his trip to India will prioritise the safety of those involved. All elements of the visit will be Covid secure.”

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Global Britain agenda

The announcement of the visit, which had been postponed from a planned Republic Day tour in January due to the escalating Covid-19 crisis in the UK, came as the UK launched the conclusions of it Integrated Review of defence, security, development and foreign policy – a post-Brexit policy vision that falls within a wider Global Britain agenda. A central foreign policy shift included in the review is a definitive tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region as the “geopolitical centre of the world”.

“I am delighted to announce that I will visit India next month to strengthen our friendship with the world’s biggest democracy,” Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons last month.

British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, recently said that the visit promises to be a very significant marking of a new kind of relationship across trade and investment as well as the exchange of people and ideas between India and the UK. The envoy, who is in charge of finalising the prime ministerial visit agenda, highlighted several pillars of focus for the bilateral engagement, covering areas such as defence and security and climate action and healthcare, including cooperation in the area of Covid-19 vaccines.

“It is very exciting that he is coming. He was planning to come in January, but the Covid situation in the UK put paid to that, but he is very keen to come and we are really looking forward to what we hope will be a very significant marking of a new kind of relationship,” Ellis said recently.

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