Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his English counterpart Boris Johnson. (Photo| PTI/File)
Almost a fortnight after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed “regret” that he would not be able to visit India as Chief Guest for the Republic Day celebrations in view of the pandemic, he has invited the Indian Prime Minister to the UK for the G7 summit in June this year.
Johnson, who had extended an invitation to Modi during a phone call last year, also reiterated his plan to visit India ahead of the G7 summit.
The proposed summit will be the first in-person G-7 summit in almost two years, as it will be held in the English region of Cornwall from June 11 to 13. Besides India, Australia and South Korea have also been invited as guest countries as a testament to UK’s commitment to ensuring multilateral institutions better reflect today’s world, according to a statement issued by the British government.
Modi had attended the G-7 summit in Biarritz in France in August 2019 and was also invited for the 2020 summit hosted by the US — which could not take place due to the pandemic.
This is expected to be Modi’s second G-7 summit; his predecessor Manmohan Singh had attended the G-8 summit (it became G-7 from G-8 with the expulsion of Russia in 2014) five times between 2005 and 2009 through his first term in UPA 1.
Coalition of democracies
G7 plus India, Australia and South Korea is seen as a gathering of D-10 — 10 leaders who represent over 60% of people living in democracies around the world. This is also seen as a signal to China.
Making the invitation official, Johnson said: “As the most prominent grouping of democratic countries, the G7 has long been the catalyst for decisive international action to tackle the greatest challenges we face. From cancelling developing world debt to our universal condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the world has looked to the G7 to apply our shared values and diplomatic might to create a more open and prosperous planet.
“Coronavirus is doubtless the most destructive force we have seen for generations and the greatest test of the modern world order we have experienced. It is only right that we approach the challenge of building back better by uniting with a spirit of openness to create a better future,” he said Sunday.
The UK proposes to use the G7 Presidency to unite leading democracies to help the world build back better from Covid toward a greener, more prosperous future, the statement said. And address shared challenges, from beating coronavirus and tackling climate change, to ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change and scientific discovery.
The G7, which includes UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the USA and the EU, is the only forum where the world’s most influential and open societies and advanced economies gather for discussions.
Ahead of the summit, the UK is also set to host a number of ministerial meetings throughout the year to cover economic, environmental, health, trade, technology, development and foreign policy issues.
The summit itself will be held in the coastal town of Carbis Bay, supported by neighbouring St. Ives and other towns across the Cornwall region.
In February, UK will assume the Presidency of the UN Security Council, and, later this year, it will host the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow and a global education conference.
British officials said that as “pharmacy of the world”, India already supplies more than 50 per cent of the world’s vaccines, and 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 G7,” a British official said.