UK PM Boris Johnson to virtually interact with PM Narendra Modi due to surge in global COVID-19 cases

New Delhi: A series of high-level virtual meetings have been planned for the next fortnight as surging COVID-19 cases have made it difficult for physical engagement. 

On Monday (April 26), Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will interact even after the latter’s visit to India got deferred due to rising COVID-19 cases in India.

Earlier this week, when the formal announcement of the visit being deferred was made, UK PM Boris said, “The relationship between the UK and India is of huge importance and I’ll be talking to Prime Minister Modi on Monday, we’ll be trying to do as much as we can virtually.”

During the talks, both sides are set to agree on a Roadmap 2030 for future relations that aims to increase ties in every sector from trade to investment and technological collaboration. 

In the month of March, UK published its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign policy with a key focus on India as London focuses on its “tilt” to the Indo Pacific.

This is the 2nd time PM Boris’s India visit was deferred. He was invited to be the chief guest for Republic Day as well in January but could not come due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in his country at that time.

On May 8, the India-EU Leaders’ Meeting, as PM Modi’s scheduled visit to Portugal’s Porto for the same was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. For the first time, India-EU Leaders’ Meeting in the EU+27 format will be held virtually. 

According to a release by the Ministry of external affairs the meet ‘reflects the shared ambition of both sides to further deepen the Strategic Partnership’.

PM Modi will also take part in US President Joe Biden’s virtual climate summit that will take place on Thursday and Friday. PM will be speaking at the Leaders’ Session 1 that will take place tomorrow from 5.30 to 7.30 pm IST. 

Ministry of External Affairs said in a release, “The Leaders will exchange views on climate change, enhancing climate actions, mobilising finance towards climate mitigation and adaptation, nature-based solutions, climate security as well as technological innovations for clean energy.”

PM Modi is among 40 world leaders who have been invited to the virtual climate summit. From South Asia, along with Indian PM, Bhutanese and Bangladeshi PMs have been also invited. 

The Summit is a part of a series of global meetings focusing on climate issues, being held in the run-up to COP26 that will take place in UK in November 2021.

Virtual diplomacy amid covid has gained currency. Indian Prime Ministers has held talks and bilateral summits from over 10 countries in the last one year–from Australia to Uzbekistan to Vietnam to Bangladesh to a large number of European countries like the Netherlands, Denmark. 

A number of big ticket summits, like G20, BRICS, SCO and even Quad have taken place virtually with India’s participation.

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