India invites UK PM Boris Johnson as R-Day chief: Report
United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been invited to be the chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations in January next year, a report said on Wednesday. Indian PM Narendra Modi had reportedly invited his British counterpart during their telephonic conversation on November 27, according to Hindustan Times. India celebrates its 72nd Republic Day on January 26, 2021. Here are more details.
Sources told HT that Modi had invited Johnson during the November conversation. At the time, Modi had said that they had an excellent discussion on an ambitious roadmap for India-UK ties in the next decade. "We agreed to work towards a quantum leap in our cooperation in all areas—trade and investments, defense and security, climate change and fighting COVID-19," he had said.
Citing sources, HT also reported that Johnson has invited Modi to the G-7 summit in the UK next year. Speaking about the November conversation, the sources said that Johnson had offered a free trade agreement with India and deepening cooperation on climate change issues. They also discussed ways to further strengthen their partnership and put up a strong anti-COVID-19 response, the sources said.
Diplomats told HT that the invitation to Johnson is a well-thought-out strategy by Modi in the context of the January 1 Brexit, and London being uneasy with Joe Biden winning the 2020 United States Presidential elections earlier in November. With Brexit, the UK is set to face trade issues as the European Union comprised 47% of its total trade.
The UK also bears significance for India as it is a part of P-5 (the Permanent Five) and thus has the ears of the US on Afghanistan and Pakistan. It also has a strong political lobby from Mirpur in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).