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Engagement with Narendra Modi is not an endorsement: British envoy


Suhasini Haidar,CNN-IBN
Aug 22, 2013 at 07:09pm IST

New Delhi: The British government has cleared the air over an invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to visit its Parliament saying the invitation does not mean an endorsement of the BJP leader.

Speaking over the issue, British High Commissioner James Bevan said that the invitation to Modi was extended only by a few parliamentarians and was not a decision that had been taken by the British government. "A few parliamentarians have invited Modi to UK but UK government has not invited him. It is a part of my job to meet influential people in India and I was just doing the job that I am being paid for," he said.

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Bevan added that the British government was still very much concerned about the human rights violations during the Gujarat riots in 2002 when Modi was the chief minister of the state.

Britain's opposition party's Labour Friends of India chairman Barry Gardiner had sent a letter to Modi inviting him to the House of Commons to speak on 'The Future of Modern India'.

He said Modi has been one of the key political figures in India and he has been one of the outstanding chief ministers of his generation and there is no doubt about that. The invitation comes nearly 10 months after the British government warmed up to Modi.

"The invitation is a culmination of several years of engagement between senior representatives of the Labour Party and Narendra Modi," the Labour MP for Brent North said. "I am sure people in the UK and indeed the international community would be very interested to meet and hear what Narendra Modi has to say first hand."

The UK government, like the US, had distanced itself from Modi in the aftermath of the 2002 Gujarat riots until late 2012 when the British High Commissioner to India made diplomatic overtures towards the Gujarat Chief Minister.

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