U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his trip to India which was scheduled for April 25-26, because of the alarming Covid-19 situation. This decision was taken after weeks of discussions about moving forward with the visit despite the growing pandemic. The officials last week had informed that the UK Prime Minister would be shortening the duration and limit of his travel to Delhi. With a massive jump in new cases and deaths in India, officials in London and Delhi mutually decided to call off the trip. This decision was announced by both governments. Reportedly, Mr. Johnson said that the only sensible thing to do is to postpone, given how badly the pandemic has hit India. He added that, even though it will be frustrating to hold the summit via video conference, he hopes to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi when circumstances permit and expressed great sympathy for India in this crisis. However, the Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson stated that both sides will be holding a virtual meeting sometime soon to launch plans for a transformed India-U.K. relationship. Along with the virtual summit expected to take place next week on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to the U.K. for the G-7 summit which is to be held in mid-June in Cornwall. Prior to the G-7 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to travel to Porto, Portugal for the E.U.-India summit, scheduled on May 8, as well as visit France at the same time. The officials have reportedly said that for now, both visits are still on. UK Prime Minister had to call off his previous trip in January because of a surge in novel coronavirus cases in the U.K. Nonetheless, a good number of agreements have been negotiated, and are most likely to be announced at the virtual summit. This also includes an Enhanced Trade Partnership agreement to launch negotiations towards a comprehensive trade deal, plus a “2030 Roadmap” to set the course of ties in a number of areas. In the month of March, the U.K., for the first time revealed its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy to reconstruct its international perspective with a decided focus on the Indo-Pacific region. About the proposed ties with India, a statement in the document mentioned that the vision is for a re-energized trade and investment, rooted in S&T and assisting levelling up in the U.K. and India similarly, stronger defence cooperation that provides a more secure Indian Ocean Region, working on the existing biannual Ministerial Defence Dialogues; and U.K.-India leadership to combat global challenges like climate change, clean energy including global health.
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