The Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, has accepted the Indian government’s invitation to be Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations on 26 January 2021 in New Delhi.
Speaking to media, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “UK PM Johnson has also accepted the very generous invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in January, which is a great honour.”
“I am absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to delivering the quantum leap in our bilateral relationship that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and I have pledged to achieve,” Mr Johnson was quoted as saying by the news agency Reuters.
He also added, “Being a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, India is an increasingly crucial partner for the United Kingdom as we work to boost jobs and growth, confront shared threats to our security and protect our planet.”
The statement hailed India as the “pharmacy of the world”, stating that it supplies more than 50 per cent of the world’s vaccines, with more than a billion doses of Britain’s Astra Zeneca and Oxford vaccine being produced at the Serum Institute in Pune.
With this, Mr Johnson becomes the second British Prime Minister to attend India’s Republic Day event after John Major in 1993. Earlier in the past, British chancellor of exchequer Rap Butler was the chief guest for the R-Day celebrations in 1956, members of British Royalty Prince Philip in 1959 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1961 and then Chief of Defence Staff Lord Louis Mountbatten in 1964.
UK PM Boris Johnson invites PM Modi to Britain-led G7 summit the next year
The UK Foreign Secretary further also said that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited PM Modi to participate in the UK-led G7 summit next year.
I’m pleased that PM Boris Johnson has invited PM Modi to join the UK-hosted G7 summit next year. UK PM 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 https://t.co/GS1YTD0FeW pic.twitter.com/VPW7JsQrnQ— ANI (@ANI) December 15, 2020
The British Prime Minister had written to PM Narendra Modi to accept his invitation and to invite India to attend the UK’s G7 Summit as one of three guest nations alongside South Korea and Australia. The invitation was a part of Johnson’s endeavour to work with a group of like-minded democracies to promote shared interests and tackle common challenges.
Expressing “huge admiration” for India, Raab said India had become a “huge presence on the global stage”.
“I think we share the belief that we can do even more together on our shared priorities. For the UK, we see those priorities along the following lines: we want to deepen our economic partnership. Before the pandemic hit, the bilateral trade between India and the UK was growing at a vibrant 11 per cent,” he added.
Focus on taking the bilateral ties to the next level, Boris Johnson as Republic Day 2021 Chief Guest symbolic of new era: EAM S Jaishankar
The Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar said that focus of the talks between the countries has been on how to further strengthen the bilateral ties, adding that both the nations are focused on five broad themes: Connecting people, trade and prosperity, defence and security, climate change and health.
“The presence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the chief guest at Republic Day 2021 would be in a way symbolic of a new era, a new phase of our relationship,” Jaishankar added.
Besides the External Affairs Ministry, Raab will also have meetings with the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, and the Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal.
The Ministry of External Affairs said that Raab’s visit will pave the way for taking the bilateral relationship to the next level in the field of trade, defence, climate, migration and mobility, education, and health sectors in the post-Covid, post-Brexit context.