New Delhi: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be visiting India on April 26. It will be his first visit abroad since the UK left the European Union.
Announcing the visit in the British Parliament, Johnson said, "I am delighted to announce that I will visit India next month to strengthen our friendship with the world's biggest democracy".
The visit aims at boosting UK opportunities in the region, and to create a democratic counterweight to China.
During his India visit, Johnson is also expected to visit Pune. The world's largest vaccine manufacture Serum Institute of India (SII) is also based in the city. SII has been producing Oxford Astrazeneca's covid vaccine Covishield, which has been exported to many countries from there. It is, however, unclear whether Johnson will visit the institute.
The visit was in making for a long time, with Johnson expected to visit India in January for India's republic day. But he could not make it then due to the concerns regarding the new strain of coronavirus in his country.
The visit comes even as the UK released its foreign policy document that sees India as key to London's "Indo Pacific tilt". The just-released "Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy" mentioned India over 15 times, calling India an "international actor of growing importance."
The document said, "The UK-India relationship is already strong, but over the next ten years we seek transformation in our cooperation across the full range of our shared interests. India – as the largest democracy in the world".
UK as the chair of the G7 grouping has invited India for the meeting of the grouping in June. Indian PM Modi will be travelling to the country for the summit, which could see on its first in-person quad meeting as well. Both sides are also working on a trade deal.