London, Sep 17 (PTI) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday extended greetings to his Indian counterpart “friend” Narendra Modi on his 70th birthday, expressing hope that the two leaders would meet soon.
“Very best wishes to my friend @NarendraModi on his 70th birthday. I hope to see you soon,” he said on a post on Twitter.
The two leaders are known to share a strong personal rapport, with the prospect of his visit to India next year under consideration, contingent upon the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
Gaitri Issar Kumar, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, made reference to such a visit during her address at a webinar entitled ‘India-UK relations post-COVID and post-Brexit’ organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London on Wednesday.
“India and the UK are in an enhanced engagement mode, in pursuit of an early harvest trade agreement,” the envoy said.
Modi had extended a formal invitation for Johnson to visit India during his phone call to congratulate the newly-elected UK Prime Minister following the December 2019 general election.
However, an expected visit this year failed to materialise due to the coronavirus pandemic constraints, with early 2021 being considered as a possible timeframe.
The leaders last met on the sidelines of the multilateral G7 summit in Biarritz, France, last year.
Modi's last visit to the UK as Prime Minister was a year earlier for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April 2018, during which he held bilateral meetings with then prime minister, Theresa May.
Earlier this year, Modi had sent Johnson a similarly personalised Twitter message when the UK Prime Minister confirmed his coronavirus symptoms.
“You're a fighter and you will overcome this challenge as well. Prayers for your good health and best wishes in ensuring a healthy UK,” he said in March.
Johnson was later hospitalised with COVID-19 and went on to make a full recovery weeks later. PTI AK RS RS