Harper confident of Indo-Canadian nuke deal

Harper confident of Indo-Canadian nuke deal


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper at their joint statement after a meeting at Hyderbad House in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

He made it clear that Canada was keen to forge a civil nuclear agreement with India and had no issues regarding safety of nuclear installations here, notwithstanding some opposition back home in this regard.

"We were anxious to conclude the agreement. But there is still some amount of work to be done," Harper, who held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, told NDTV.

Asked whether there were any hurdles or difficulties, he said, "I don't think that there is anything that can't be resolved. In fact, I and Prime Minister Singh agreed to take a close examination over the next few weeks of what the remaining hurdles are and how that can be resolved."

On whether he was hopeful of the issues being sorted out, he said, "I would hope so. It is a very high priority for the government to get this done and the same thing is true on the Indian side."

When pointed out that countries like the US, France and Russia have already made a head start by signing nuclear agreements with India, Harper said, Canada was "anxious" to close that gap.

He said Canada, being the largest uranium producer in the world, has comparative strengths against some other countries.

When referred to concerns in Canada over safety of nuclear installations in India particularly in the wake of terror alert, Harper acknowledged that "some are in opposition" but rejected them, saying it would be a "throwback to 1970s."

The Canadian Prime Minister was referring to his country's decision to snap nuclear ties with India after the 1974 Pokhran tests in the wake of allegations that India had developed it using fissionable material from Canada.

"There is no safer place in the emerging world than India. Our major allies, as you already said, have signed nuclear cooperation agreements with India... If it is good enough for our allies, it is good for us," he said.

Harper made it clear that he would not allow "fears and concerns from two generations ago to interfere with the future nuclear cooperation which is vital to both our countries."

Talking about the advantages of Indo-Canadian nuclear cooperation, Harper said his country has vast energy resources with a relatively small market while India is a large country and has a growing market with a deficiency in energy resources.

On Canadian national Lashkar-e-Taiba operative Tahawwur Rana, who has been arrested by FBI for planning attacks here, Harper promised "close cooperation" with India as well as the United States.

"Canada cooperates very closely with the US in cases like this and obviously we will extend that courtesy to India," he said but refused to go into specifics.

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