Canada committed to closer ties with India, says PM Trudeau

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  in Ottawa.

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canada is “very serious” about building closer ties with India as it is a growing economic power and important geopolitical player, but wants New Delhi to work with Ottawa to ensure that they get the full facts about the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Also read: U.S. and India mum on Canada spat in describing Jaishankar Blinken meet

Tensions flared between India and Canada following Mr. Trudeau’s explosive allegations of the “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani extremist Nijjar on his country’s soil on June 18 in British Columbia. India had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020.

India angrily rejected the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated” and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official over the case.

Mr. Trudeau said despite “credible allegations” against India, Canada is committed to building closer ties with it, The National Post newspaper reported.

Speaking at a press conference in Montreal, Mr. Trudeau said that he thinks it is “extremely important” that Canada and its allies continue to engage “constructively and seriously” with India given its growing importance on the world stage.

“India is a growing economic power and important geopolitical player. And as we presented with our Indo-Pacific strategy, just last year, we’re very serious about building closer ties with India,” he told reporters.

“At the same time, obviously, as a rule of law country, we need to emphasise that India needs to work with Canada to ensure that we get the full facts of this matter,” the paper quoted him as saying.

‘Assurance from U.S.’

Mr. Trudeau said he got assurances from the United States that Secretary of State Antony Blinken would be raising the allegations made publicly about India’s role in Nijjar’s murder during a meeting with his Indian counterpart in Washington on Thursday.

However, the US State Department in its readout on the meeting between Blinken and Jaishankar did not say whether the two leaders discussed the India-Canada diplomatic standoff.

“The Americans have been with us in speaking to the Indian government about how important it is that they be involved in following up on the credible allegations that agents of the Indian government killed a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil,” said Mr. Trudeau.

This is something that all democratic countries, all countries that respect the rule of law need to take seriously, he said.

“We are moving forward in a thoughtful, responsible way anchored in the rule of law with all of our partners including in our approach to the Government of India,” he added.

Mr. Trudeau first spoke publicly about the allegations in the House of Commons on September 18.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre demanded that Mr. Trudeau release more information about the allegations. But the New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, who has his security clearances and received an intelligence briefing on the matter, came to the same conclusion as Mr. Trudeau.

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