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.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had 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 said.
US President Joe Biden is to attend the meeting of the G-7, which brings together the world’s most advanced economies – UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan. This will be the first in-person summit of the grouping in two years.
The G-7 leaders are expected to discuss shared challenges including the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on global economies.
The UK Prime Minister had invited India as a guest, along with Australia and South Korea.
In January, a UK statement had said: “As ‘pharmacy of the world’, India already supplies more than 50% of the world’s vaccines, and the UK and India have worked closely together throughout the pandemic. Our prime ministers speak regularly and Prime Minister Johnson has said he will visit India ahead of the G-7.”
But Mr Johnson cancelled in visit in April – he had earlier put off his visit when he was to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations – over the Covid situation.
India is reporting the world’s highest daily average of new Covid infections and deaths. The number of cases in a day has been above 3 lakh for nearly three weeks.
The UK, on the other hand, has eased its virus lockdown and has allowed people to hug close family and friends and meet indoors at pubs, restaurants and cinemas from next week.