British PM Boris Johnson calls off India visit in view of pandemic

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New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday called off his planned visit to India next week due to the coronavirus situation, in second such cancellation over the pandemic.

Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said both sides decided by 'mutual agreement' that the prime minister of the United Kingdom will not visit India next week.

The UK government last week said that Johnson's visit would be shortened. It was scheduled to begin on April 25.

Bagchi said the two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a 'transformed India-UK relationship'.

In January, Johnson's planned trip to India to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade was postponed following surge in COVID-19 infections in the UK.

'In view of the prevailing Covid situation, it has been decided by mutual agreement that the prime minister of the United Kingdom will not visit India next week,' Bagchi said.

He was replying to media queries on the issue.

'The two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship,' Bagchi said.

'Both leaders attach the highest importance to taking the India-UK partnership to its fullest potential and propose to remain in close touch in this regard and look forward to an in-person meeting later in the year,” he said.

India and the UK have already agreed on the key elements of an ambitious 10-year roadmap to further broaden ties.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited India in December during which both sides resolved to boost strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Raab had told reporters in India that the UK's Indo-Pacific 'tilt' is aimed at grasping the opportunities as well as to manage 'challenges and the pressures' arising out of China's actions. PTI MPB SMN SMN