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Canadian PM to leave on maiden visit to India next week

By Ajit Jain
Last updated on: November 13, 2009 11:58 IST
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Ajit Jain, rediff India Abroad Managing Editor, Canada, who is traveling with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the latter's first-ever visit to India, reports on the high-profile delegation accompanying the PM and its agenda during the three-day India visit.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is scheduled to visit India next week and meet Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on November 18 in New Delhi, will be accompanied by Foreign Affairs minister Lawrence Cannon, Minister for International Trade Stockwell Day and Parliamentary Secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Deepak Obhrai. The Canadian PM is currently on his way to Anchorage, Alaska.

"Such a high-powered delegation should speak volumes that we, our government, are laying all emphasis possible on our relations with India, solidifying our relations with India," said Obhrai.

When quizzed on the agreements that were likely to be signed during Harper's visit, he retorted, "Diplomacy doesn't work that way."

"This visit is very significant as it demonstrates that Canada has a very close relationship with India and we want these bilateral relations to solidify further," he added.

"It is hard for me to predict if any major agreements would be signed.  Agreements between two countries take time to work out but through meetings at the highest level, leaders from the two sides demonstrate to their own respective officials their own commitments on various issues," Obhrai explained.

Speaking on the civilian nuclear agreement between India and the United States signed last year, he said, "Our vote in favour of India, in favour of the waiver for the India-US civilian nuclear agreement in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, indicates Canada's relations with India. Such votes are not given lightly."

"But I must say a lot of progress has taken place on the nuclear civilian agreement, on the free trade agreement and on the foreign investment protection agreement," admitted Obhrai, adding, 'There will be agreements in the education field, in the cultural field."

Conservative Indo-Canadian Members of Parliament including Obhrai, Nina Grewal, Tim Uppal, Devinder Shory and Patrick Brown are accompanying Harper. 

During his maiden India visit, Harper will visit Mumbai, where he will hold a round-table discussion with Indo-Canadian businessmen. 

Harper will also travel to Amritsar to visit the Golden Temple. "All the Indo-Canadian MPs will accompany the prime minister to the Golden Temple," informed Obhrai.

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Ajit Jain On board the Canadian PM's aircraft