Prime Minister Narendra Modi has formally invited UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, 2021.
The invitation was extended by Modi to Johnson during their phone conversation on November 27, sources said. It is after a gap of 27 years that a UK Prime Minister will be the chief guest at India’s 70th Republic Day next month. John Major was the last British Prime Minister to attend the Republic Day parade in New Delhi in 1993. While there is no official confirmation or announcement of the invitation extended by India, the timing is important since PM Modi is likely to visit London next year to attend the G-7 summit for which the British premier had extended him an invitation. However, Prime Minister Modi hinted in a tweet on November 27 that India-UK are embarking on an ambitious partnership.
The leaders last met on the sidelines of the multilateral G7 summit in Biarritz, France, last year. Modi’s last visit to the UK as Prime Minister was a year earlier for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in April 2018, during which he held bilateral meetings with then prime minister, Theresa May. To reduce the adverse effects of the economic disruption since post-Brexit, the UK has been looking for trading opportunities elsewhere. Prime Minister Johnson has offered a free trade agreement with India, given its huge market. Johnson`s visit to New Delhi next month will be significant for trade negotiations between the two countries.