British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accepted the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be chief guest at Republic Day celebrations of India on 26 January 2021 in New Delhi, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab reported on Tuesday.
“UK Prime Minister Johnson has also accepted the very generous invitation to attend the Republican Republic Day celebrations in January, which is a great honor,” the British foreign minister said.
With this, Johnson becomes the second British Prime Minister to attend the event after John Major in 1993.
For his part, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said Johnson’s acceptance of the invitation for Republic Day somehow symbolizes a new era in Indo-British ties.
Along with that, Raab also added that Johnson invited Prime Minister Modi to join the G7 summit in the UK next year.
Raab’s three-day visit to India from 14 to 17 December comes at a time when Britain is arranging complex negotiations with the European Union on reaching a post-Brexit trade agreement.
After Brexit, Britain looked to grow trade with major economies like India. There were fears that its separation from the European Union without a trade agreement could severely cripple its financial markets and possibly have long-term implications for its economy.
The British Foreign Secretary is due to meet with Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal.
Raab will also travel to Bengaluru, where he will meet Karnataka Prime Minister BS Yediyurappa on 17 December.
The development comes along with the news that Johnson will travel to India in January, his first bilateral visit since taking office, to try to strengthen trade and investment ties and work together to tackle climate change, his office said.
Since leaving the European Union in January, Johnson has been keen to promote what he calls “global Britain”, hoping to strengthen ties with more distant countries and attract new foreign investment to a country severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am absolutely delighted to visit India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to making the quantitative leap in our bilateral relationship that we and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi have promised to achieve,” Johnson said in a statement.
“As a key player in the Indo-Pacific region, India is an increasingly indispensable partner for the UK as we work to accelerate jobs and growth, face common threats to our security and protect our planet.”