EU Relaxes Boycott of Modi

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LONDON: European Union diplomats have held talks with BJP leader Narendra Modi after a 10-year boycott over his role in deadly religious riots.

Germany’s ambassador, Michael Steiner, on Friday confirmed a newspaper report that EU diplomats had met with Modi over lunch last month after his landslide re-election in the western state of Gujarat in December.

Analysts say Modi’s victory will serve as a springboard for a shot at the premiership in national elections next year.

“I have always said that … we will take a fresh look after the (Gujarat) elections,” Steiner said. “That’s exactly what we were doing and part of it is to talk directly to chief minister Modi.”

Modi came to power in Gujarat just before the 2002 riots and is accused of doing little to prevent India’s worst religious violence since independence. Some 2,000 people were killed in clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

One of Modi’s former ministers was jailed for life for instigating the killing, but all investigations have cleared the chief minister of personal responsibility.

Steiner said the decision to renew ties with Modi reflected “a new phase” in the relationship between India and the EU.

“We respect election results in India and we have full trust in its judicial system. Because of this respect and trust, we are now in a new phase,” he told reporters.

The change in the EU’s stance comes a few months after Britain relaxed its boycott of the divisive politician, holding talks with Modi in October 2012. Agencies

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