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Modi-Trudeau Meet: Canadian PM Talks of 'Cooperation with India' on Multiple Fronts Sans Specifics

The two leaders met for the first time on the sidelines of G7 Summit in Italy after Canada went public with the allegations of Indian government's involvement in the killing of a Canadian Sikh activist.
Justin Trudeau. Photo: X/@JustinTrudeau

New Delhi: After his brief encounter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Italy on Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said India and Canada will extend cooperation on a range of important issues.

The Indian Prime Minister posted a photograph on his official Twitter account, showing them standing, shaking hands, and talking. The Canadian side did not release any separate readout or photo.

While Canada is a member of the G7 bloc of developed countries, India, along with other countries of the Global South, had been invited to take part in an outreach session by the host Italy.

Although Trudeau spoke of cooperation between the two countries at a media interaction, following his meeting with Modi, he, however, stopped short of sharing specifics about the areas that he was referring to. He did not share whether he raised the allegations about the Indian government’s involvement in the killing of Canadian Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which has strained ties between the two countries for the last several months.

Modi and Trudeau met for the first time after Canada went public with the allegations.

“I’m not going to get into the details of this important, sensitive issue that we need to follow up, but this was a commitment to work together, in the coming times, to deal with some very important issues,” Canada’s CBC News quoted Trudeau as saying at a news conference in Savelletri Di Fasano, Italy, on Saturday morning.

He then went on to say, “We need to continue to engage with various partners around the world, with various partners, even as we highlight challenges as we stand up for the rule of law.”

On the allegations that India had interfered in Canadian elections, he said, “The issue of foreign interference is one that this government has taken incredibly seriously since 2015.”

India’s name had come up as a foreign state actor that tried to interfere in Canadian elections, both at the public inquiry into foreign interference chaired by Justice Marie-Josée Hogue, and also in a recent report filed by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP), an oversight body for Canadian security intelligence agencies.

The Canadian Prime Minister also did not comment on whether, given the allegations against India, he would extend the invitation to the Indian leader to the G7 Summit next year, which will be hosted by Canada.

India has claimed that it cannot probe the allegations made by Canada as no proof has been shared by Ottawa. In contrast, New Delhi had set up a high-level committee to investigate the allegations made by US prosecutors that an Indian government official was behind the failed attempt to target the general counsel of a pro-Khalistani group that has been banned in India.

Earlier this year, the head of Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), David Vigneault had made two un-publicised visits to India in February and March, as per reports. The visit took place before Canada arrested four Indian nationals in May accusing them of being part of a hit-squad which targeted Nijjar.

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