India: EU summit to be virtual due to Covid surge

New Delhi, India: A planned summit between the European Union and Indian leaders in Portugal next month will now be virtual because of the sharp rise in coronavirus cases in India, New Delhi said Tuesday.

India has recorded more than three million new infections and 18,000 deaths this month alone, dashing hopes in January and February that the country might have beaten the pandemic.

The United States on Tuesday advised its citizens against traveling to India while Britain, canceling a visit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, added the country to its "red list".

"In view of the COVID-19 situation, it has been decided, in consultation with the EU and Portuguese leadership, to hold the India-EU Leaders' Meeting in a virtual format on 8 May 2021," the Indian foreign ministry said.

"The India-EU Leaders' Meeting in the EU+27 format, the first time that such a meeting is being held, reflects the shared ambition of both sides to further deepen the Strategic Partnership," a spokesperson said.

The 27 leaders of the European Union member states are due to meet EU officials, labor, business, and civil society organizations in the Portuguese city of Porto on May 7, a day ahead of the EU-Indian leaders' meeting.

They will discuss a European Commission proposal to fully implement a plan to protect the rights of workers and small businesses across the bloc, as well as climate change and the transition to a digital economy.

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