India, Canada have agreed to institute strategic dialogue at foreign ministers level: PM

New Delhi, Nov.6 (ANI): Describing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's six-day visit to India as yet another milestone in Indo-Canadian relations, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said he was confident that this second visit by Harper to India in the last three years would be marked by increasingly beneficial cooperation in the years ahead.

Delivering his opening statement here after delegation-level talks between the two sides, Dr. Singh said Prime Minister Harper and he had conducted a comprehensive review of India and Canada's wide-ranging partnership.

"We agreed to institute a strategic dialogue at the level of foreign ministers. We identified energy cooperation, particularly exports of Canadian oil and natural gas as well as renewable energy cooperation, as an area with enormous potential. A ministerial-level energy dialogue will supplement the strategic dialogue and promote specific projects. We also welcomed the recent progress made towards concluding the modalities for the effective operationalization of the agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation that we had signed in 2010," said Dr. Singh in his opening statement.

The Prime Minister further said that both countries have agreed to promote active collaboration in high technology sectors between their respective scientific institutions.

"The Prime Minister (Harper) and I agreed on the need to develop such linkages. The MOU that has just been signed between DRDO and York University is a welcome foray into bilateral defence technology cooperation, where Canadian prowess is widely acknowledged," said Singh.

He also said that the large Indian-origin community in Canada, and the people to people interaction this has fostered, has played a vital role in strengthening bilateral relations.

"The Social Security Agreement that has been signed today will be of enormous benefit to many expatriate professionals in both countries," Singh added.

"Canada has traditionally been an important partner in our efforts to ensure food security. In this context, both sides have agreed to enhance cooperation in the field of agriculture," the Prime Minister further revealed.

Stating that economic cooperation was still below potential, Dr. Singh said that the establishment of a bilateral CEOs Forum, and the commitment to a structured dialogue at the Commerce Ministers level, would help foster improved trade and economic interaction.

"We resolved to conclude negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement within the next year. I assured the Prime Minister that India is committed to finalizing a Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement, on which negotiations are underway. I also conveyed that India hopes to attract more Canadian investment in India, just as there has been a steady flow of Indian capital into Canada," Dr. Singh said.

"India and Canada are nations built on shared values that celebrate democracy, inclusiveness and diversity. We have similar concerns in combating terrorism, extremism and radicalism. The Prime Minister (Harper) and I agreed to deepen our counter-terrorism cooperation. I conveyed to the Prime Minister our appreciation for Canada's efforts in promoting peace and development in Afghanistan," Singh said.

"Our two countries have a common interest in the stability of the global financial system. We have a close and effective partnership in the G-20, where India and Canada co-chair the Working Group on a Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth. The Prime Minister and I agreed to intensify our coordination in international fora," he added.

In conclusion, Dr Singh said that he looked forward to continuing the fruitful partnership with Harper, as also between India and Canada. (ANI)

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