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India, UK To Conduct Virtual Summit On Tuesday To Discuss Bilateral Ties

Announcing the summit, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said PM Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson will unveil a 10-year roadmap to further expand India-UK ties

PM Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson will discuss bilateral ties on Tuesday AP/ PTI Photo

India and the UK will hold a virtual summit on Tuesday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will conduct discussions with his British counterpart Boris Johnson to unveil a 10-year roadmap to further broad base bilateral ties.

Announcing the summit, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the two leaders will discuss bilateral ties across five key areas.

"A comprehensive roadmap 2030 will be launched during the summit, which will pave the way for further expanding and deepening India-UK cooperation over the next decade across five key areas," the MEA said.

Elaborating on what the five key areas will be, the MEA said the summit will focus on people-to-people relationship, trade and prosperity, defence and security, climate action and healthcare.

This development comes just days after Johnson cancelled his visit to India citing a surge in the number of Covid-19 infections here.

"In the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week,” Downing Street said on April 19, in a joint statement on behalf of the British and Indian governments.

Johnson was expected to visit India on April 26.

Meanwhile, elaborating on the summit, the MEA said it, “will be an important opportunity to elevate our multi-faceted strategic ties and enhance cooperation on regional and global issues of mutual interest.”

"India and UK enjoy a Strategic Partnership since 2004. It has been marked by regular high-level exchanges and growing convergences in diverse areas," the MEA added.

The MEA said both the leaders will also discuss Covid-19 cooperation and the global efforts to fight the pandemic.

UK To Ship 1,000 Ventilators To India

Just two days before the virtual summit, Downing Street on Sunday said, that 1,000 more ventilators will be sent from the UK’s surplus supply to Indian hospitals to help the most severe COVID cases, in addition to 200 ventilators, 495 oxygen concentrators and three oxygen generation units the UK announced as part of the assistance package last week.

Besides the offer of much-needed equipment, the UK government said that England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance have spoken to their Indian counterparts to provide advice, insight and expertise to the Indian healthcare system as it deals with one of the world's worse surges in COVID levels. It has been agreed that the National Health Service (NHS) is to establish a clinical advisory group led by NHS England Chief People Officer Prerana Isaar to support India’s COVID response.

"The UK will always be there for India in its time of need," said Johnson.

"The terrible images we have seen in India in recent weeks are all the more powerful because of the close and enduring connection between the people of the UK and India. I am deeply moved by the surge of support the British people have provided to the people of India and am pleased the UK government has been able to play our part in providing life-saving assistance," he added.

Virgin Atlantic also flew 200 boxes of oxygen concentrators to Delhi on Saturday, after partnering with Khalsa Aid. Further cargo space will be given free of charge on six flights to India in the next week, in association with the Red Cross.

"India has also provided support to the UK throughout the coronavirus pandemic. As the ‘pharmacy of the world’ the country has kept its borders open to supply the UK with vital medicine and PPE [personal protective equipment] – exporting over 11 million face masks and 3 million packets of paracetamol over the course of 2020,” Downing Street said.

(With PTI inputs)

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