Modi calls off UK visit for G7 Summit as pandemic rages
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called off his visit to the UK to attend the G7 Summit as a special invitee because of the Covid-19 situation in the country, the external affairs ministry announced on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited Modi and the leaders of Australia, South Korea and South Africa as guests to the G7 Summit to be hosted by the UK in Cornwall during June 11-13. This would have been Modi’s second foreign visit this year, after a trip to Bangladesh in March to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the neighbouring country’s independence.
“While appreciating the invitation to the Prime Minister by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to attend the G7 Summit as a special invitee, given the prevailing Covid situation, it has been decided that the Prime Minister will not attend the G7 Summit in person,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
The move came days after Modi called off a planned visit to the Portuguese city of Porto to participate in the India-EU Summit on May 8. The meeting was subsequently held in a virtual format.
External affairs minister S Jaishankar visited the UK to attend the G7 foreign ministers meeting in London during May 3-5, but he and his delegation had to go into self-isolation after two members tested positive for Covid-19.
The pandemic has also affected the schedule for bilateral visits between India and the UK this year. Johnson called off plans to visit India twice – he cancelled a trip that was to begin on April 25 following a surge in infections in India, and in January, he cancelled a trip in order to focus on his government’s response to a new coronavirus variant that was spreading rapidly in the UK.
Modi and Johnson held a virtual summit on May 4, during which they launched an Enhanced Trade Partnership and a Mobility and Migration Partnership, and unveiled a roadmap to boost bilateral ties over the next decade.