Sweden took the lead in ending the European Union’s boycott of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. Even so, it stands by the decision to boycott meetings with him after the 2002 riots.

Justifying the original ban, Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt told The Hindu: “I think it was natural after the events of 2002, for a while. But there are limits to how far you can go with that. I think it was probably the right thing to do at the time, after the events.”

Mr. Bildt said Sweden’s decision to break the boycott, by sending its then Ambassador Lars-Olof Lindgren to meet with Mr. Modi in Gandhinagar in 2008, was also a considered decision. “I do think dialogue is the way to move things forward with Mr. Modi, and there were the question marks, which are still there to some extent. But Gujarat is important economically, and of course he [Mr. Modi] turned out to be an important man for all of India.”

The meeting with Ambassador Lindgren and the Danish envoy paved the way for Mr. Modi’s lunch with EU Ambassadors in January last year that officially ended the EU's boycott.

Mr. Bildt called Mr. Modi’s win in the elections “impressive” and of a “magnitude that surprised everyone,” and said Sweden looks forward to economic reforms by the NDA government, particularly on FDI on single-brand retail that has kept Swedish furniture giant IKEA waiting.

Full text of the interview at thne.ws/CarlBildt

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