Canada PM's visit to strengthen nuclear agreements

Harper will hold talks focusing on the 2010 India-Canada nuclear deal

The visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, scheduled on Sunday, is expected to take forward the nuclear agreements between India and Canada.

Following the bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, specific agreements to operationalise the nuclear collaboration were under negotiation and some forward movement is expected during the Canadian Prime Minister’s visit, said Vikran Doraiswamy, joint secretary in-charge America.

“The specifics and modalities of the agreement are being worked out. It will be within the framework of India-specific safeguards agreement, norms of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Indian law and Canadian national law,” Doraiswamy added.

Though Canada supplied a 100 Mwe CANDU pressurised heavy water reactor for Rajasthan Atomic Power Station in early 1970s, the two countries had troubled relations on nuclear issues ever since the 1974 Pokhran nuclear test.

Canada refused to cooperate in constructing the second CANDU reactor following Pokhran-I as a result of which Department of Atomic Energy had to struggle for eight years to operationalise the second reactor in 1981.

As India's nuclear isolation ended with the Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement, the relationship with Toronto too improved. Canada, incidentally, is one of the world's largest supplier of nuclear technology and uranium fuel.

Harper to hold talks

During his visit to India in September, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird stated that Canada, a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, was not insisting on any "additional conditionalities" for supplying uranium to India and will follow the same pattern as it has with the US and the European Union.

Stephen Harper will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh focusing on fast-tracking the 2010 India-Canada nuclear deal and romping up cooperation trade, agriculture, energy and mining.

During his six-day visit, Harper will travel to Agra, Chandigarh and Bangalore.
The Canadian Prime Minister will call on Karnataka governor H R Bhardwaj, attend a business meeting and participate in a cultural event in IMAX theatre. India and Canada are negotiating a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to take their economic ties to next level.

The next round of negotiations will be held in Canada mid-November.
Bilateral trade is currently estimated to be $5 billion. Indian investments in Canada are steadily growing and are estimated to be over $10 billion. India's ONGC Videsh Ltd is now hoping to acquire oil blocks in Canada.

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