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India will likely have no chief guest at this year's Republic Day parade in New Delhi after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled his trip to India on Tuesday in the wake of the new coronavirus variant in the United Kingdom.
The UK PM was to be the chief guest at this year's Republic Day parade in New Delhi. He had accepted the invitation last month.
"The prime minister spoke to Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi this morning (Tuesday), to express his regret that he will be unable to visit India later this month as planned," read a statement from his Downing Street office.
Johnson cited the need to oversee the pandemic response in the UK as the reason behind the cancellation of the proposed visit to India.
Johnson said that it is important for him to remain in the country so that he can focus on the domestic response to the new coronavirus variant.
The two leaders emphasised on their shared commitment to the bilateral relationship, and to continue to build on the close collaboration between India and the UK.
The UK government had earlier announced a complete lockdown for England's 56 million people, which could last until mid-February amid a huge spurt in coronavirus cases.