Britain today ended its decade-long boycott of Gujarat when its High Commissioner to India James Bevan met Chief Minister Narendra Modi to mark a "cordial
beginning" to fresh ties, with the two discussing opportunities for greater economic cooperation.
In the first engagement with Gujarat in 10 years after it snapped all ties with the state in the aftermath of the 2002 communal riots, the British High Commissioner met Modi for about 50 minutes, discussing a range of issues, including climate change and investment.
"The meeting can be described as a cordial beginning as both of them were keen on taking forward the ties," sources in the Chief Minister's office said.
"Bevan told the Chief Minister that they are well aware of capabilities of Gujarat and the Gujarati community and his government is keen to establish and expand ties with the state," they said.
Modi also welcomed the decision of British Prime Minister David Cameron to strengthen and develop relations with Gujarat. He said he appreciates
Britain's Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire's statement on behalf of the British government and its people to develop relations with the state, sources said.
"During the meeting, Modi, keeping in mind the large number of Gujarat origin people living in UK, urged him to start an office of
deputy (sic) British High Commission in Gujarat," said an official statement from the state government.
The Chief Minister also invited the British Government to participate in 'Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors' Summit', his pet project to give impetus to state's
industrialisation, to be held in January 2013. "The envoy has accepted the invitation," it said.
Acknowledging Britain's expertise in the field of climate change, Modi sought its cooperation in addressing the issue, besides enhanced cooperation in infrastructure.
The Chief Minister said there were great opportunities for British companies, particularly in projects like Gujarat International Finance Tec-city and port development.
Taking up the issue of large number of students from Gujarat going to study in the UK, Modi also sought efforts from the British government to provide "proper and authentic guidance" to prospective students, the statement said.
"Chief Minister also told the British Government to guard interest of students due to a large number of unrecognised colleges coming up in UK which dupe them," it said.
Modi specifically conveyed best wishes from him and the people of Gujarat for the success of diamond jubilee celebrations of the accession of Queen Elizabeth to the throne.
He presented a memento for the British Prime Minister and also to the visiting dignitary-- Rogan painting by an artist from Kutch reflecting the 2,000 year-old art tradition.
"Modi also presented them his book on climate change, 'Convenient Action'," the statement said.
However, there was no official word on whether the 2002 riots were discussed.
A case is going on in a local court in connection with the killing of three British citizens of Indian origin in the riots.
In a major policy change ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections, Britain had on October 11 announced an end to a 10-year boycott of Modi and asked its High Commissioner to visit the state to discuss issues of mutual interest and explore opportunities for closer cooperation.
After meeting Modi, Bevan called on Governor Kamla Beniwal and state Congress president Arjun