UK PM Boris Johnson Cancels India Trip Amid Surge in COVID Cases
India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that it was a decision made by mutual agreement.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his trip to India scheduled for next week.
A statement issued by Downing Street on Monday, 19 April, said, “In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week."
“Instead, Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson will speak later this month to agree and launch their ambitious plans for the future partnership between the UK and India. They will remain in regular contact beyond this, and look forward to meeting in person later this year,” the statement added.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that it was a decision made by mutual agreement. The MEA further said that the two sides will be holding a virtual meeting in the coming days to launch plans for a transformed India-UK relationship.
“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,” the MEA further said.
India on Monday reported 2,73,810 new COVID-19 cases, 1,619 fatalities and 1,44,178 discharges in 24 hours, as per the Union Health Ministry. The total case tally has now reached 1,50,61,919 with 19,29,329 active cases and 1,78,769 deaths.
Calls for Cancelling Trip
UK’s Opposition Labour Party on Sunday had echoed calls for Prime Minister Johnson to cancel his India visit.
“There are new variants emerging all around the world. The government is telling people don’t travel if you don’t absolutely have to. I can’t see why the Prime Minister can’t conduct his business with the Indian government over Zoom (video call),” Steve Reed, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government of UK’s Labour Party, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Reed said that the PM must lead by example at such times.
On 14 April, Johnson decided to shorten his trip to New Delhi scheduled for 26 April, in view of the severity of the second wave of the pandemic in India.
Johnson had earlier indicated that apart from New Delhi, he wanted to visit Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai. The visit is significant for the UK as it is eyeing a new bilateral trade deal with India, following its exit from the European Union.
(With inputs from The Guardian.)
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