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Canadian PM visits Golden Temple

November 18, 2009 18:59 IST

Ajit Jain, rediff India Abroad Managing Editor, Canada, who is travelling with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his first-ever visit to India, reports:  

On his last day in India, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took time to visit the Akshardham temple and the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

When asked by a reporter what he felt when toured the holy places, Harper said, "First of all, they are fascinating spots. We obviously have very little of them in Canada. BAPS temple in Toronto is a magnificent place but this one Akshardham is such an enormous scale.   It is just overwhelming. Of course, we have nothing like the Golden Temple in Canada.

"It was just a great opportunity to see and experience the roots of so many Indo-Canadians.  Of course, I took the Swami's advice when I was in the BAPS temple in Toronto and sort of prayed for world peace and of course hope for more stronger India and just about everywhere."

The other question was about the significance of his India visit -- whether he was thinking of domestic politics with large numbers of Sikhs in Canada.

Harper said, "India is a rising power in the world and it has closer cultural and human relations than any other developed country in the world."  He said during the last two-three years, they have been 'building relations with India on a different plane".

"Even when in the opposition, the Conservative Party felt that they had to build relations with India. I think we had this discussions and agreements here which will  move us forward on all our priorities which are many but most important obviously is trade."

Harper then referred to the two MOUs that they signed with India -- one on setting up of a study group to strengthen economic relations and the other on energy cooperation.

"We have agreed to set up a very important study group on economic partnership with India and another step forward is on energy cooperation agreement. We made some progress on nuclear cooperation agreement, but more work need to be done. Of course, we had all kinds of discussions with India on security and the values we share in the world and the threat we face in the world."

He added, "Much more needs to be done in the weeks and months to come to really fulfill what we started here and get this relationship where we wanted it to be."

Ajit Jain