Cameron invites Modi to visit Britain

Last Updated: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 22:00

London: Britain on Friday became the first European country to invite Narendra Modi to visit the country after his resounding victory in the Lok Sabha polls, nearly two years after it had ended a decade-long boycott of the BJP leader in the wake of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

BJP`s Prime Minister-designate accepted British Prime Minister David Cameron`s invitation to visit the UK when the latter called Modi to felicitate him on his party`s victory.

"The Prime Minister called Narendra Modi this morning to congratulate him on his victory in the Indian elections and the record turnout, making this the biggest democratic election in history," a 10 Downing Street spokesperson said.

"Mr Modi said he would be delighted to accept the Prime Minister`s invitation to visit the UK. Both leaders agreed on the importance of the UK-India relationship and agreed to work together to strengthen it in the months ahead," she added.

The UK nearly froze all ties with Modi after the 2002 Gujarat riots. But it ended its decade-long boycott in October 2012 when its high commissioner to India James Bevan met Modi to mark a "cordial beginning" to fresh ties.

Modi was boycotted by the US and European powers over the riots.
Earlier, Cameron tweeted congratulating Modi as the election results poured in.

"Congratulations?@narendramodi?on victory in India`s elections. Keen to work together to get the most from UK-India relationship," tweeted Cameron, who was among the first world leaders to greet Modi.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also stressed the close relationship between the two countries in an official Foreign Office statement.

"I congratulate Narendra Modi and the BJP on their success and look forward to forging an even closer partnership with India in the months ahead.

"With 815 million eligible voters,?915,000 polling stations, and nine days of voting over five weeks, India has seen the largest parliamentary election in the world," he said.

"The UK has strong ties with India and the British Government looks forward to working with the new Indian Government to build on this relationship and deliver security, growth and prosperity for both our nations," Hague added.

The UK`s Opposition Labour party stressed on the "vital" relationship as?MP Douglas Alexander, Labour`s Shadow Foreign Secretary, said: "Congratulations to BJP & Narendra Modi ? our links with the world`s largest democracy will continue to be vital to the UK`s national interest."

Impromptu street parties broke out in Wembley, north London, the heart of London`s Gujarati community, and in Leicester - home to a majority of British Gujaratis - as hundreds of BJP supporters took to the streets.
Modi is all set to become the next Prime Minister of India as his party is heading towards a majority on its own and form the next government.

First Published: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 22:00
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