Will consider visa for Modi if he applies, says British envoy
British Deputy High Commissioner for Western India Peter Beckingham Sunday said Britain would consider sanctioning visa to Chief Minister Narendra Modi "if he applies for it".
"We would consider if he applies. As of now, he has not applied for visa," Beckingham said when asked whether the UK would give visa to Modi after having resumed diplomatic contact with the state. He was interacting with mediapersons after taking part in a charity walk in the city to raise money for schools with his wife Jill.
Beckingham's visit comes a week after British High Commissioner to India James Bevan met Modi during first ever official visit of the state by any high commissioner of the UK in a decade.
The UK had severed diplomatic ties with Gujarat after communal riots in the state in 2002. A year after the imposition of sanctions, the CM had visited Britain in 2003 but he was denied a diplomatic visa in 2005 after strong opposition from human rights groups. US too had refused visa to the CM in 2003.
However, on October 11, the British government declared to end censure of Gujarat and asked its High Commissioner in Delhi to visit the state "as a part of efforts to strengthen bilateral relationship with India."
In the changed diplomatic scenario, an official British delegation would attend Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors' Summit 2013, he said. "A delegation with support of the UK government would take part in Vibrant Gujarat next January. The delegation would be led by Patricia Hewitt of UK India Business Council,"
On announcement of resuming diplomatic contact just ahead of the Assembly elections, Beckingham said, "The decision was taken shortly after Olympics (in London in August) and it was not for endorsement of any individual but for starting engagement with Gujarat."
"British Government wants to improve relations across board in Indian and Gujarat is a very important state," he said, adding there was a wide scope for cooperation between UK and Gujarat in education, trade and tourism.
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