Updated: December 15, 2020, 8:34:13 pm
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be the main guest at the Republic Day celebrations in January 2021, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed. Raab made the announcement after meeting Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday. He came to India on a bilateral visit on Monday evening.
The Indian Express had reported about it earlier Johnson is addressed from India through informal channels.
Boris Johnson’s presence during the Republic Day celebrations “symbolizes a new phase between India and Britain”. Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said: “I am delighted that PM Boris Johnson has invited PM Modi to join the UK. Host of the G7 summit next year. British Prime Minister Johnson has also accepted the very generous invitation to attend the Indian Republic Day celebrations in January, which is a great honor. The presence of Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the main guest on Republic Day 2021 would in some ways symbolize a new era, a new phase in our relationship. “
Johnson is the sixth from the UK to be the main guest on Republic Day. He will also be the first UK Prime Minister since John Major to be the main guest at the celebrations in 1993. In the past, royals have been the main guests – Prince Philip in 1959 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1961. British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rap Butler (1956, with Japan’s former Chief Justice Kotaro Tanaka) and then Chief of Defense Lord Louis Mountbatten (1964 ) was also the main guest in the past.
However, this time around India may have a shortened version of the Republic Day celebrations due to the pandemic, like the scaled down version of the August 15th Independence Day celebrations.
An invitation to be Main guest of the Republic Day is symbolic from the perspective of the Indian government. New Delhi has woven strategy with hospitality to choose its main guest. Each year the choice is determined by a number of factors – strategic and diplomatic, business interests, and geopolitics.
The UK choice is interesting as post-Brexit relations with the UK will be tested on several fronts – economic, personal, political and strategic levels. Both sides will be interested in connecting with each other and Delhi will want to capitalize on its relations with the EU while dealing with the UK – particularly on economic relations.
Raab, one of the few foreign ministers to visit India during the COVID-19 pandemic, will also travel to Bangalore. He will be in India from December 14th to 17th. He will also have official meetings with the Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar, and the Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal.
The Foreign Ministry said Raab’s visit “will pave the way for further strengthening partnership in the areas of trade, defense, climate, migration and mobility, education and health in the post-Covid and post-Brexit context”.
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