British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his scheduled visit to India, citing the new coronavirus variant.
“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,” according to a statement from his Downing Street office.
“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 statement read.
“The 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,” it said.
Johnson was to be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade in New Delhi.
The statement from the Indian side said that 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. He looked forward to receiving Prime Minister Johnson in India at the earliest opportunity after normalisation of the situation”.
“The leaders reviewed ongoing cooperation between both countries, including in the area of making COVID-19 vaccines available for the world. They reiterated their shared belief in the potential of the India-UK partnership in the post-BREXIT, post-COVID context, and agreed to work towards a comprehensive roadmap for realising this potential,” according to the official release.
“Prime Minister Johnson reiterated his thanks for India’s invitation for him as the Chief Guest of the forthcoming Republic Day celebrations, but regretted his inability to attend in view of the changed COVID-19 context prevailing in the UK. He reiterated his keennees to visit India in the near future,” it read.