Discussed farmers’ protests with Modi: Canada PM Justin Trudeau

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OTTAWA/NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 11: Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that he held a “good discussion” with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on many important issues, including on the two nations’ commitment to democratic principles, recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue.

Trudeau made a telephone call to Modi on Wednesday.

“I had a good discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on many important issues, and we’ve agreed to stay in touch,” Trudeau tweeted.

“The leaders discussed Canada and India’s commitment to democratic principles, recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue,” the Canadian Prime Minister’s office said in a statement, in an apparent reference to the ongoing farmers’ protest in India.

Trudeau in December said that Canada would always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protests, and had expressed concern over the situation, evoking a strong reaction from India.

India later summoned Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel and told him that the comments made by Trudeau and others in his cabinet on the farmers’ protest constituted an “unacceptable interference” in the country’s internal affairs and these actions, if continued, would have a “seriously damaging” impact on the bilateral ties.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has also emphasised that the new farm laws have been passed by India’s Parliament after a full debate and discussion and urged foreign individuals and entities to ascertain the facts before rushing to comment on the agitation by farmers.

“The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. These reforms give expanded market access and provide greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming,” the ministry said in a statement last week.

“We would like to emphasise that these protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the efforts of the government and the farmer groups to resolve the impasse,” it said.

During the phone call, Trudeau and Modi underlined the need to work collectively in rebuilding a more sustainable and resilient global economy.

“The two leaders had an exchange on their respective efforts to fight the Covid pandemic, protect the health and safety of their people, and provide economic support for their citizens,” the statement from the Canadian Prime Minister’s office said.

The two leaders “spoke about India’s significant efforts in promoting vaccine production and supply, which have provided vital support to countries around the world,” it said.

The two leaders agreed to work together on access to vaccines.

The leaders also recognised the need for continued global coordination to respond to the pandemic and to promote recovery.

“The two prime ministers reaffirmed their common interests in a free and open Indo-Pacific, and the importance of working together on global challenges such as climate change, strengthening global trade, and reinforcing the rules-based international order,” the statement said.

They underlined the need to work collectively in rebuilding a more sustainable and resilient global economy, it said.

The leaders underscored the importance of the Canada-India strategic partnership anchored in shared values, strong people-to-people ties, and growing bilateral economic cooperation, it said.

“The two leaders looked forward to working together at the G7, G20, and other international fora,” it added.

In New Delhi, the MEA in a statement said that Trudeau informed Modi about Canada’s requirements of Covid vaccines from India.

The Prime Minister assured Trudeau that India would do its best to support Canada’s vaccination efforts, just as it had done for many other countries.

Expressing his appreciation, Trudeau said if the world managed to conquer Covid, it would be significant because of India’s tremendous pharmaceutical capacity, and Modi’s leadership in sharing this capacity with the world. Modi thanked Trudeau for his sentiments, the MEA statement said.

The two leaders also reiterated the common perspective shared by India and Canada on many important geopolitical issues.

They agreed to continue the close collaboration between both countries in fighting global challenges like climate change and the economic impacts of the pandemic, it said.

The leaders looked forward to meeting each other in various important international fora later this year, and continuing their discussions on all issues of mutual interest, the statement added.

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