LONDON: The UK government today asked its envoy in India to visit Gujarat and meet with Narendra Modi to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest and explore opportunities for closer cooperation, prompting Modi to tweet: "I welcome UK Govt's step for active engagement & strengthening relations with Guj. God is Great."
Modi, who has launched a robust campaign for his re-election, was quick to welcome the British government's decision, saying better late than never.
Modi also tweeted thanked the Indian diaspora for their support: "Getting many messages of pride & joy from Indian diaspora, especially Gujaratis in London & all over the world. Thanks for your affection!"
Gujarat and Modi had faced diplomatic isolation in the aftermath of the 2002 riots.
Britain's Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire said in a statement: "I have asked the British High Commissioner in New Delhi to visit Gujarat and to meet the Chief Minister and other senior figures in the state.
This will allow us to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest and to explore opportunities for closer cooperation, in line with the British Government’s stated objective of improving bilateral relations with India."
Swire, who is in-charge of India, said: "The UK has a broad range of interests in Gujarat. We want to secure justice for the families of the British nationals who were killed in 2002. We want to support human rights and good governance in the state.
We also want to provide the best possible support for British nationals who live in, work in or visit Gujarat; and to the many Gujaratis who now make up one of the most successful and dynamic communities in the UK."
Justifying the move, which has been criticised by some human rights campaigners, the sources in the high commission said the British government wanted a deeper and broader relationship with the whole of India and did not want to leave out an important state like Gujarat.
They also said Britain saw a number of opportunities for tie-ups in areas of education, science and technology and innovation.
Rejecting the criticism of Britain going soft on human rights issues, Swire said in London: "We want to support human rights and good governance in the state."
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