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UK ends Modi's boycott, envoy says not endorsement of Modi

Last updated on: October 22, 2012 19:55 IST

Ending a ten-year boycott of Gujarat after the 2002 riots, Britain on Monday made its first engagement with the state when High Commissioner James Bevan met Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Bevan drove in to the state secretariat complex in Gandhinagar at about 11 am to meet Modi with a small delegation.

"The meeting continued for about 50 minutes," official sources said.

After the meeting, Bevan drove away to meet Governor Kamla Beniwal.

It was immediately not known what transpired in the meeting.

On October 11, the UK had announced ending a 10-year boycott of Narendra Modi government imposed after the 2002 riots.

The British government had asked its envoy to India, James Bevan, to visit Gujarat and meet Modi and other senior officials in the state to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest and explore opportunities for closer cooperation.

The chief minister had welcomed the move as "better late than never".

"Der Aaye Durust Aaye (better late than never)! I welcome UK government's step for active engagement and strengthening relations with Gujarat. God is Great," Modi had tweeted, reacting to Britain's decision.

Bevan said after the meeting that active engagement with Gujarat was the right way to advance UK's interest in the state.

"This is engagement with Gujarat and Gujarat as a whole and not an engagement with any single figure," Bevan said.

"I don't agree with your perception that we are rehabilitating Mr Modi, this engagement is not about endorsement. If we need to engage with some state, we need to engage with the chief minister of state and Modi is democratically elected leader of Gujarat," he said.

Bevan was asked what UK government stood to gain from "rehabilitating" the Chief Minister of the BJP-ruled state.

UK had snapped all ties with Gujarat in the aftermath of the 2002 communal riots in which three British nationals were among the victims.

"Had a great meeting... to strengthen Guj-UK ties in economic and social sectors," Modi said on Twitter after the meeting.

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