Defending its decision to end the boycott of Gujarat over 2002 riots, Britain on Thursday said it cannot ignore the state if it wanted to build a stronger relationship with India.
Pitching for a closer cooperation on a range of subjects and a permanent seat for India in UNSC, British High Commissioner James Bevan said both the countries were working more closely together, both on the ground in places like Afghanistan, and in international organisations like the UNSC.
Noting that Britain was not seeking an exclusive partnership with India, he said both countries have "many friends and partners" around the world but his country do think that there is a "unique fit" between them that means they can aspire to do much more together in the coming years.
Delivering a lecture 'The UK and India: Myths, Reality and Prospects', Bevan cited the recent decision of Britain to re-engage with Gujarat on trade and easing travel advisory on Jammu and Kashmir to show that his country likes to have a robust partnership with the country.
"Our belief that India will matter more and more in future, and that all of India matters, also played a part in our recent decision to change our policy on Gujarat. Since the 2002 riots, the British government has had no high level contact with the government of Gujarat.
"But if you want to build a stronger relationship with India, as we do, you can't ignore Gujarat. And if you want to deal with any Indian state, you need to deal with the government of that state," he said.
Britain had decided to re-engage with Gujarat and Bevan met Chief Minister Narendra Modi on October 22. Bevan had then said the decision should not be seen as an endorsement of Modi but as an "engagement with Gujarat".
Referring to the easing of travel advisory on Kashmir for the first time in 20 years, he said it reflects an "objective assessment" of the security situation.