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‘Was Hugely Looking Forward to Joining You’: UK PM Boris Johnson Greets India on Republic Day

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Britain and the European Union have struck a provisional free-trade agreement that should avert New Year's chaos for cross-border commerce and bring a measure of certainty to businesses after years of Brexit turmoil. The breakthrough on Thursday came after months of tense and often testy negotiations that whittled differences down to three key issues: fair-competition rules, mechanisms for resolving future disputes and fishing rights. (Paul Grover/Pool Photo via AP)

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Britain and the European Union have struck a provisional free-trade agreement that should avert New Year's chaos for cross-border commerce and bring a measure of certainty to businesses after years of Brexit turmoil. The breakthrough on Thursday came after months of tense and often testy negotiations that whittled differences down to three key issues: fair-competition rules, mechanisms for resolving future disputes and fishing rights. (Paul Grover/Pool Photo via AP)

Johnson was due to be in New Delhi as the chief guest at the annual parade to mark Republic Day but had to call off the visit to focus on the domestic crisis unleashed by the emergence of a new, deadlier variant of coronavirus.

The UK and India are working side by side to free humanity from the coronavirus pandemic, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a special reference to the vaccine collaboration in his Republic Day message on Tuesday.

Johnson was due to be in New Delhi as the chief guest at the annual parade to mark the India's 71st Republic Day but had to call off the visit to focus on the domestic crisis unleashed by the emergence of a new, deadlier variant of coronavirus in the UK at the end of last year.

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In his video message to celebrate the birth of an extraordinary Constitution that established India as the biggest sovereign democracy in the world, the UK PM reiterated his plan to visit India in the coming months. "I was hugely looking forward to joining you for this important occasion at the kind invitation of my friend Prime Minister Modi, alas our common struggle against COVID has kept me in London," said Johnson.

"As I speak, our two countries are working side by side to develop, produce and distribute vaccines that will help to free humanity from the pandemic. And thanks to the combined efforts of Britain, India and many other nations, we are on the road to success against COVID. So, I look forward to visiting India later this year, strengthening our friendship, and striving for the quantum leap in our relationship that Prime Minister Modi and I have both pledged to achieve," he said.

Addressing the Indian diaspora in the UK, he added, "All over the world, this virus is compelling people to stay apart, including family and friends in Britain and India, who form what Prime Minister Modi has called the living bridge between us. But for now, let me wish everyone in India as well as those celebrating here in Britain, a very happy Republic Day," the British prime minister said.