Cameron and Sharif invite Modi for visit

May 17, 2014 - 1:24:56 am

LONDON: Narendra Modi has accepted an invitation from Prime Minister David Cameron to visit Britain in the wake of his election win, Downing Street said yesterday 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.”

Pakistan’s prime minister called Modi yesterday to congratulate him on his landslide election win, suggesting Islamabad is keen to promote better ties with its giant neighbour. Sharif also invited Modi to visit Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke to Modi, leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to hail the “impressive victory”, a statement from the Pakistani leader’s office said.

There have been fears that a victory for Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP could signal bumpy times ahead for the two nuclear powers.

Since his own election victory in May last year, Sharif has sought to improve ties with India, Pakistan’s traditional arch-rival.

In an interview last week, Modi said ties with Pakistan could not improve unless the country worked hard to stop militants from carrying out attacks on Indian soil. In Pakistan, Modi has long been held in deep suspicion for his association with bloody anti-Muslim riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002. India’s outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in January that Modi would be “disastrous for the country” after “presiding over the massacre of innocents”.

He was boycotted by the US and European powers over the riots, which left around 1,000 people dead.

Modi denies turning a blind eye to the bloodshed, and investigators have never found evidence of wrongdoing. Afghan President Hamid Karzai also congratulated Modi for leading the BJP to victory.

“President #Karzai extends his warm Congratulations to @narendramodi on victory in elections. Afghans always regard #India as a true friend,” Aimal Faizi, spokesperson to the president, tweeted. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina congratulated BJP president Rajnath Singh and Modi for the party’s landslide victory in the elections. In separate letters to the BJP president and Modi, she invited them to visit Bangladesh at the earliest. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued an invitation to Modi to visit Sri Lanka after the BJP’s victory. Presidential spokesman Mohan Samaranayake said that the president issued the invitation to Modi after congratulating him on the election victory.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott too called up Modi to congratulate him for leading the BJP to victory. “I’ve spoken to @narendramodi and congratulated him on his success. I look forward to strengthening ties between India and Australia,” Abbott tweeted in his official PM account.

According to Radio Australia, Abbott has invited Modi to visit Australia for the G20 Summit to be held in Brisbane in November. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu also called Modi and congratulated him on his victory.“Netanyahu said that he was looking forward to work with Modi and enhance bilateral cooperation,” a statement issued by the Gujarat Bhavan in New Delhi said.

Agencies

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