India, Canada to energise ties, fast-track nuclear deal

India, Canada to energise ties, fast-track nuclear deal

India and Canada will Wednesday hold talks to fast-track the implementation of their civil nuclear deal and look for ways to scale up their cooperation in  hydrocarbons, an emerging area that is set to energise relations between the two countries.

India and Canada, a popular destination for immigrant Sikhs, are also expected to spur negotiations for a comprehensive economic pact that promises to expand their trade and investment ties.

On the security front, India is expected to take up issues relating to the re-emergence of Khalistan activists in Canada.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, who Sunday began his five-day trip from Mumbai, India's commercial hub, will hold talks with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna in New Delhi Wednesday.

The two sides are expected to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations and will seek to spur negotiations on a host of key pacts, including a social security agreement, the bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

The implementation of the nuclear deal the two countries signed in 2010 will figure prominently in the discussions. India is also expected to press Canada, a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, for supply of uranium which is embroiled in issues regarding  finding a mechanism to verify atomic material.

The wide-ranging talks will set the agenda for a visit by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to India, likely in the first week of November.

Ahead of the talks, Baird Tuesday said in Mumbai that Canada was "deeply committed" to a comprehensive bilateral economic partnership agreement and implementing the nuclear cooperation agreement with India.

"Canada remains deeply committed to the negotiations toward the Canada-India comprehensive economic partnership agreement, the administrative arrangements to the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and the audiovisual co-production agreement."

"This visit signals a strong commitment to completing these important initiatives," he said.

Bilateral trade has been expanding rapidly between the two countries and has now exceeded $5 billion.

With the flux in the Middle East and North Africa, India is also looking to step up cooperation with Canada in the energy sector. In this context, Baird's meeting with Petroleum Minister S. Jaipal Reddy in New Delhi will be critical.

GAIL (India) Ltd is understood to be buying liquefied natural gas (LNG) assets which has been put up for sale by Spain's Repsol SA in Canada.

India's state-owned energy major ONGC Videsh is exploring the possibility of investing in oil sands and LNG in western Canada's Alberta province.