India has invited UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be the chief guest for its 2021 Republic Day, according to several media reports. While the reports published last night by various Indian media outlets were speculative, it is now confirmed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invited the UK prime minister to be the chief guest at the country’s Republic Day celebrations on 26 January. Modi had made the call on 27 November.
A diplomatic source said that the invite was extended on 27 November during a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Johnson.
However, there was no confirmation from the British High Commission on this with officials reportedly saying that Johnson was keen to visit India as soon as possible.
The diplomatic sources said that a decision was awaited on this from London.
Johnson reciprocated by inviting Modi to the G-7 summit in the United Kingdom next year, sources said.
As per a yet another report, the telephonic talks focussed on the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and other related issues.
Reports of the invite came on the same day the UK became the first country in the world to approve the COVID-19 vaccine developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, with the roll-out set to begin early next week.
If Johnson accepts the invite, he would become the first British prime minister to grace the parade at Rajpath in nearly three decades.
The last UK premier to be the chief guest at the 26 January parade was John Major in 1993.
The Johnson administration is considered favourably disposed towards India, with shared ideological objectives that the British media does not approve otherwise. Prime Minister Modi spoke to his British counterpart Johnson last Friday too. This was about the way ahead for the bilateral ties between the two countries in the next 10 years. The two leaders discussed cooperation in sectors of trade and investment, defence and the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2020, India had invited Brazil‘s Jair Bolsonaro to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.