National

UK PM Boris Johnson to attend Republic Day parade as chief guest

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Boris Johnson. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be the Chief Guest of India’s Republic Day celebrations, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said here on Tuesday. He stressed that the Indo-Pacific region was one of the “highest” focus areas of the U.K.’s foreign policy.

Also read: Jaishankar and British foreign secretary hold talks, discuss ways of expanding cooperation

Addressing a press conference with the visiting dignitary, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said both the countries should make a difference to the “rules based global order”.

Mr. Raab said, “We welcome India’s return to the UN Security Council... Prime Minister Johnson has invited Prime Minister Modi to join the U.K.-hosted G7 summit next year. Prime Minister Johnson has also gratefully accepted the very generous invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations in January which is a great honour”.

‘Enhanced Trade Partnership’

He stated that the U.K. and India were working on an “Enhanced Trade Partnership” that would be a stepping stone for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two sides, covering a vast array of activities from IT to lifestyle. The future FTA with India was expected to be a part of the post-Brexit British economic plans.

Mr. Raab said both nations would build a new generation of partnership in the Indo-Pacific region, which was one of the “highest foreign policy priorities” of the Boris Johnson government.

He confirmed that HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group would visit the Indo-Pacific region in 2021.

Mr. Jaishankar pointed at areas of bilateral convergence in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific region. India looked forward to work with the U.K. as it began its non-permanent stint at the UN Security Council in January 2021.

Mr. Raab said,“We are committed to building a stronger defence and security partnership with our Indian friends. That will help us tackle shared issues of concern like terrorism, maritime security, including things like piracy in the western Indian Ocean. It will also help us to respond to the new and emerging challenges like space and cyber security”.

The western Indian Ocean has emerged over the recent years as a zone of maritime competition with multiple countries establishing presence across the region.

Following the bilateral meeting between Mr. Jaishankar and Mr Raab, a press release from the British High Commission pointed out that the U.K. had signalled for a “closer U.K.-India relationship of a wider U.K. focus” on the Indo-Pacific region. Both sides also firmed up plans for a “10-year road map” that will find greater political support when Mr. Johnson visits India.

Raab to meet Modi

Mr. Raab is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday to discuss “the 10-year road map” . India-U.K. trade and investment stands at £24 billion and grew by 11% in the last financial year.

Also read: Raab, Jaishankar to discuss ties upgrade

India-UK relationship has been in focus over the past few weeks especially in view of the protest by members of the Indian diaspora over the newly adopted Indian farm laws. The issue also featured in the British Parliament where Mr. Johnson was quizzed by Indian-origin members over the U.K.’s position on the ongoing protests. However, the issue did not figure in the exchanges on Tuesday.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 7, 2021 7:24:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/uk-pm-johnson-accepts-pm-modis-invite-will-be-republic-day-parade-chief-guest/article33337689.ece

Next Story