British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday said that he was open to meeting the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, pointing out that the UK had already started a “proper engagement” with Gujarat.
Cameron arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday night on a short visit enroute to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday morning before leaving for Kolkata. At the meeting, both premiers expressed satisfaction at the growing trade ties between their two countries.
Asked whether he would like to meet Modi in the near future, Cameron said: “In time, yes. It’s good to meet. We have an approach of meeting all politicians and leaders. In the end, it will be for the people of India whom to elect. But I’m open to meeting elected leaders.”
Cameron also utilised his short visit to allay concerns of those looking to study in the UK, saying there was no limit on the number of Indians who could study in the UK.
He, however, added that the UK needed to keep a tab on immigration.
Britain was one of the countries that maintained a distance from Modi following the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat. But the past year has seen a distinct shift.
An unofficial decade-long boycott of Gujarat ended in October, 2012, when British High Commissioner to India James Bevan met Modi at Gandhinagar. This was followed by the Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire’s meeting with Modi in March this year. At the time, Swire said it was “a logical next step” in the UK’s relations with the state.