Reaching out to Narendra Modi despite controversies surrounding him, envoys of 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries today met him here and expressed desire to do business with Gujarat.
The envoys met Modi at Gujarat Bhavan for more than an hour during which the Chief Minister apprised them about the work done by his government and talked about the potential for trade between the two sides.
"The main purpose was to increase relations between Gujarat and our countries in many fields. All ambassadors talked about possibilities in the respective countries," Costa Rican envoy Juan F Cordero told reporters after the meeting.
Asked whether he would like to see Modi as the next Prime Minister of India, Cordero replied, "Undoubtedly he is one of the important political leaders in India but it is for the people in india to decide. It is not in our hands."
He went on to add that "as a diplomat, I can't say what could happen in the months to come. It is in the hand of the Indian people."
When referred to the controversies related to 2002 riots surrounding Modi and several countries boycotting him, the Costa Rican envoy said the situation is changing.
"There is some change in the stand of some countries compared with previous situation. I think there is a change," he said.
On the part of his country, the envoy said, "We are more focussed with doing trade more than the political issues."
High commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago Chandradath Singh hailed Modi for his "charisma" and said "he is able to represent the power and strength of Gujarat, its economy and he touched on several areas in which Latin American countires can collaborate with Gujarat".
The meeting of Latin American and Caribbean envoys came five months after EU ambassadors hosted a lunch for Modi, which was seen as an end to boycott towards him.
According to a statement released by the Gujarat government, the diplomats congratulated Modi for making the state the "growth engine of India" and showing keen interest to strengthen the trade and business relations between the state and these countries.
"They were impressed with all round development of Gujarat under his leadership," it said.
Narrating the achievements of Gujarat in different sectors like healthcare, education, drinking water, sanitation, agriculture etc, Modi informed the diplomats that his state would be willing to share these experiences for mutual benefit of both the regions.
"I have seen many things there I would like to have in our country," the Trinidad and Tobogo High commissioner told reporters.
During his interaction with the envoys, Modi said both the sides have a number of common interests like hydro carbon resources, agriculture, food processing as well as dairy, pharmaceuticals etc.
Infrastructure sector and tourism promotion are other areas where Gujarat can offer a lot to Latin american countires, he said.
"In fact, Latin America has always been a valued trade partner of India and a prominent investment region for Indian investors," he noted.