India, Canada sign nuclear cooperation pact

Taking their bilateral relationship to a new level, India and Canada on Sunday signed a civil nuclear cooperation agreement and also decided to treble bilateral trade to $15 billion in the next three years.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh with the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper at the Tete-a-Tete, at Toronto, in Canada

Prime minister Manmohan Singh, the first Indian head of government to visit Canada after I K Gujral's trip here 16 years ago, and his counterpart Stephen Harper hailed the signature of the nuclear agreement after their one-on-one and delegation level talks that will provide for cooperation in civil nuclear energy, including import of uranium and equipment from Canada.

The civil nuclear agreement was signed by Srikumar Banerjee, secretary, Department of Atomic Energy and Canadian foreign minister Lawrence Cannon in the presence of the two prime ministers.

The deal also envisages cooperation in fields of nuclear waste management and radiation safety.

The agreement marks a significant change in the Canadian attitude, as in the past it has slapped sanctions on India after the Pokhran I and II tests in 1974 and 1998.

A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said the two prime ministers committed themselves to the ratification of the agreement and completion of all remaining steps necessary to ensure its early implementation.

The two prime ministers also solemnly observed the occasion of the 25th anniversary of bombing of Air India flight 182 'Kanishka' on 23 June 1985 that killed all 329 people on board. A few days back Harper apologised to the families of the victims of the disaster for "institutional failures" of the government and promised some form of compensation to them.

In his remarks to the media, the prime minister Singh made a reference to his Canada visit coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Kanishka air crash. "This terrible disaster and the suffering it has led to will forever remain a stark reminder of the need for all of us to work unitedly to eliminate the scourge of terrorism. The victims of this tragedy deserve full justice," he said.

Singh said he was convinced that a strong India-Canada partnership will facilitate solutions to global challenges such as energy and food security, sustainable development, climate change and the fight against extremism and poverty. "Towards this end, we have agreed to promote and maintain a high level dialogue between India and Canada,'' he said.

Boost for bilateral trade

The Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, Srikumar Banerjee, and the Canadian Foreign Minister, Mr. Lawrence Cannon signing the India-Canada Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear-Energy, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper, at Toronto, in Canada
The two leaders committed to expanding a range of activities and institutional frameworks that will contribute to the shared goal of increasing bilateral trade to USD 15 billion in next five years.

They also announced their commitment to an annual dialogue on trade and investment between Canada's minister for international trade and the Indian commerce and industry minister.

They welcomed the conclusion of negotiations for a social security agreement and looked forward to its early signing followed by ratification and implementation.

Prime minister Singh said exciting opportunities await India and Canada for mutual cooperation in trade.

"Despite the global economic crisis, the Indian economy has shown resilience and is well on its way to return to an annual growth rate of 8 to 9 per cent. "We wish to aim higher and are confident that all the conditions are in place to achieve such an outcome," Singh said at the banquet hosted by Harper in Toronto.

He said the socio-economic transformation of a country of the size of India within a democratic framework will have enormous repercussions for the rest of the world.

"India today seeks an external environment that is peaceful and conducive for achieving our development goals. It is within this framework that we see new and exciting possibilities for India and Canada to work together to build a better future for ourselves," he said.

After the bilateral talks with Harper, he said that both the nations resolved to achieve the annual bilateral trade of $15 billion within the next five years and encourage two-way flow of investment.

Trade between India and Canada currently stands at $5 billion.

The two countries also directed their officials to examine a report on the feasibility of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement and expedite the follow up actions.

Singh said the two countries have identified renewable energy, clean technology and energy efficiency as priority areas of co operation, besides civil nuclear co-operation.

"The newly constituted Canada-India energy forum has also begun its work and has our full support," Singh said.    

The two countries also decided to focus on mining and agriculture, the prime minister said.    

He added that a growing number of Canadian investors are coming to India to invest in areas like telecom, environment, energy, financial services and transportation, while Indian investment in Canada has increased ten-fold in the last decade. ''These are very encouraging signs," he said.