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Boris Johnson invited as 2021 Republic Day chief guest

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London on December 2, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AFP

India has invited U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson as chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations in January 2021 and a decision on this is awaited from London, according to diplomatic sources.

The invite was extended on November 27 during a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Johnson, a diplomatic source said on December 2. However, there was no confirmation from the British High Commission on this with officials saying that Mr. Johnson was keen to visit India as soon as possible.

It has been learnt that before this invite discussions were under way for a visit by Mr. Johnson for the Raisina Dialogue.

There was no response from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to questions on the visit. There has been top level visit since U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit in February 2020 due to COVID-19. Also, with the number of COVID-19 cases in India crossing 9.5 million, there is still no clarity on the Republic Day celebrations in 2021.

The MEA said in a statement on November 27 that the two leaders exchanged thoughts about the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and reviewed the promising cooperation between India and U.K. in the area of vaccine development and manufacturing.

The leaders reiterated their shared desire to impart a quantum jump to the India-U.K. 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.

Officials said that with focus on a range of areas the focus between the two countries would be to work out a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Defence cooperation, a priority area for the two countries, has seen lot of activity in the last few years. A mutual defence logistics support agreement is in advanced stages of being signed while a defence training Memorandum of Understanding is also in the works. A Defence Technology and Industrial Capability Cooperation (DTICC) MoU was signed in April 2019.

The two counties are close to signing a government-to-government (G-to-G) agreement on jet engine technology development. In addition, the U.K. government is also working on a government-to-government framework for defence deals in future. The U.K. has already announced its intent to deploy a Liaison Officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) meant to improve Maritime Domain Awareness.

The U.K. has also made a pitch to India for joint technology development of sixth generation fighter technologies which can go into India’s fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft as well as offered design of its Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier for Indian Navy’s proposed second indigenous carrier.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 12:56:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/boris-johnson-invited-as-2021-republic-day-chief-guest/article33233549.ece

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