New Delhi [India], December 5 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday had a telephone conversation with his British counterpart Boris Johnson in which the latter regretted his inability to attend forthcoming Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest "in view of the changed COVID-19 context prevailing in the UK".
The British leader reiterated his keenness to visit India in the near future.
A PMO release 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.
It said that PM Modi conveyed that he looked forward to receiving Prime Minister Johnson in India at the earliest opportunity after normalisation of the situation.
"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 keenness to visit India in the near future," the release said.
During the telephonic conversation, the two 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," the release said.
A Downing Street spokesperson had said earlier that PM Johnson spoke to PM Modi in the morning and expressed his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month.
"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," the spokesperson said.
"In light of the national lockdown announced last night, and the speed at which the new coronavirus variant is spreading, the Prime Minister (Johnson) said that it was important for him to remain in the UK so he can focus on the domestic response to the virus," the spokesperson added.
The cancellation of the visit was announced a day after Prime Minister Johnson imposed the third lockdown in the UK amid rising coronavirus cases in the country. The new variant of COVID-19 was first found in the United Kingdom.
The UK has reported more than two million COVID-19 cases and 70,000 deaths linked to the disease.
India had invited the UK Prime Minister to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade later this month.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who visited India in December, had announced that Johnson has accepted the invitation to visit India. (ANI)