Updated: December 15, 2020 8:34:13 PM
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be the main guest at the Republic Day celebrations in January 2021, confirmed British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Raab made the announcement after his meeting with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday. He came to India on a bilateral visit Monday night.
Indian Express had reported earlier about Johnson being approached of India through informal channels.
Stating that Boris Johnson’s presence during the Republic Day holidays is “symbolic of a new stage between India and Britain”, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said: “I am pleased that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited Prime Minister Modi to join the Kingdom The United Kingdom hosted the G7 summit next year. British Prime Minister Johnson also accepted the very generous invitation to attend the Republic Day celebrations in India in January, which is a great honor. The presence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson as chief guest on Republic Day 2021 would be in a way symbolic of a new era, a new stage in our relationship. “
Johnson is the sixth in the UK to be the main Republic Day guest. He will also be the first British Prime Minister since John Major in 1993, who will be the main guest at the festivities. In the past, members of British royalty have been chief guests – Prince Philip in 1959 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1961. British Chancellor of the Prosecutor Rap Butler (1956, along with former Japanese Chief Justice Kotaro Tanaka) and then Chief of the Defense Staff Louis Mountbatten (1964) have also been major guests in the past.
This time, however, India could have a truncated version of the Republic Day holidays due to the pandemic, such as the reduced version of the August 15 Independence Day holidays.
An invitation to be Invited chief for Republic Day it is symbolic from the perspective of the Indian government. New Delhi has woven strategy with hospitality to decide its main guest. Every year, the choice is dictated by a number of factors – strategic and diplomatic, business interests and geopolitics.
The choice of Great Britain is interesting, because the ties with the post-Brexit Great Britain will be tested on several fronts – at economic, interpersonal, political and strategic level. Both sides will be eager to engage with each other, and Delhi will want to capitalize on its relationship with the EU while dealing with the UK – especially on economic ties.
Raab, who is one of the few foreign ministers to visit India during the COVID-19 pandemic, will also travel to Bangalore. It will be in India from December 14-17. He will also have official meetings with the Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, and the Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal.
The Foreign Ministry said Raab’s visit would “pave the way for further strengthening the partnership in the sectors of trade, defense, climate, migration and mobility, education and health in the post-Covid, post-Brexit context”.
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