NEW DELHI: UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday confirmed that PM Boris Johnson will attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in January 2021 as chief guest.

During talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi, visiting UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed that PM Johnson has accepted India’s invite to be the chief guest at the Republic Day Parade next month.

“I’m pleased that PM Boris Johnson has invited PM Modi to join the UK-hosted G7 summit next year. UK PM Johnson has also accepted the very generous invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in January, which is a great honour,” UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

Raab, in a joint press briefing with EAM S Jaishankar, further said that both the sides are taking all steps to take the bilateral ties forward.

“The focus has been on how to take our ties to a higher level. We focused on 5 broad themes- connecting people, trade and prosperity, defence & security, climate change and health,” EAM Dr S Jaishankar said on talks with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to India in January, his first bilateral visit since taking office. During his visit, he will try to strengthen trade and investment ties and work together on tackling climate change, his office said on Tuesday.

Since leaving the European Union in January, Johnson wants to promote what he calls “global Britain”, hoping to boost ties with countries further afield and attracting new foreign investment to a country badly hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am absolutely delighted to be visiting India next year at the start of an exciting year for Global Britain, and look forward to delivering the quantum leap in our bilateral relationship that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and I have pledged to achieve,” Johnson said in a statement.

It was reported earlier that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited UK PM as a chief guest for the 2021 Republic Day celebrations. The invite was extended during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s telephonic call to UK PM last week, according to sources. 

The telephonic talks that happened on November 27, focused on COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and other related issues. 

The Indian government readout of the meet said, “The leaders reiterated their shared desire to impart a quantum jump to the India-UK partnership in the post-COVID, post-BREXIT era, and agreed that there was tremendous potential for enhancing collaboration in trade and investment, scientific research, mobility of professionals and students, and defence and security.”

Earlier in November, acting British High Commissioner to India, Jan Thompson, said Boris Johnson will soon make an ‘in person’ visit to India.

She said, “We are expecting UK Foreign secretary Dominic Raab will be paying an in-person visit to India in the next few months. Beyond that, PM Boris Johnson is very keen to come to India. So we hope, over the next few months, we will visit, by both FS Raab and PM Johnson.”

The visit will be the first in-person visit of any head of government to India. High-level physical visits have been suspended globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last world leader to visit India was the President of Myanmar Win Myint and US President Donald Trump in February.

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