Cameron invites once-boycotted Modi to visit Britain

Cameron invites once-boycotted Modi to visit Britain

LONDON - India's Narendra Modi has accepted an invitation from Prime Minister David Cameron to visit Britain in the wake of his election win, Downing Street said Friday in a major turnaround from London's previous boycott of the Hindu nationalist.

Britain effectively froze all ties with Modi for 10 years over anti-Muslim violence in his home state of Gujarat in 2002, but reinstated them with him in 2012 as part of a general bid to boost relations with India.

"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 spokesman for Cameron 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."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also sent congratulations to Modi and said he would "look forward to forging an even closer partnership with India in the months ahead."

Modi's hardline Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the biggest election victory in India for 30 years, after wiping out current premier Manmohan Singh's Congress party in the polls.

He was boycotted by the US and European powers over the 2002 Gujarat riots that left around 1,000 dead.

But Britain, which is the former colonial power in India and has a large Indian-origin ethnic population, sent its ambassador to India to meet Modi in October 2012, saying that "active engagement with Gujarat" was the way to boost relations.

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