The visit comes in the wake of the UK’s foreign policy vision for an Indo-Pacific tilt as part of its “once-in-a-generation” Integrated Review released last month, with the India visit touted as the central plank of that strategy during its launch in the House of Commons.
“I am delighted to announce that I will visit India next month to strengthen our friendship with the world’s biggest democracy,” Johnson said in a House of Commons statement on March 16.
British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, recently said that the visit promises to be a very significant marking of a new kind of relationship across trade and investment as well as the exchange of people and ideas between India and the UK. The envoy, who is in charge of finalising the prime ministerial visit agenda, highlighted several pillars of focus for the bilateral engagement, covering areas such as defence and security and climate action and healthcare, including cooperation in the area of Covid-19 vaccines.
“This is the first major bilateral visit that this Prime Minister would have made to any country outside the UK, that says quite a lot about the significance of the India relationship which he seeks,” Ellis said last month, during a seminar organised by the London-based think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).
“It is very exciting that he is coming. He was planning to come in January, but the Covid situation in the UK put paid to that, but he is very keen to come and we are really looking forward to what we hope will be a very significant marking of a new kind of relationship,” he said.
While the Covid situation has once again played havoc with the itinerary, officials are hopeful that the visit can go ahead at least in its much shorter version.