Trudeau speaks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (update)

PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and among other things, they discussed “recent protests” – apparently the Indian farmers’ ongoing protests and protests in Canada supporting Indian farmers.

According to an official press release, “The two leaders had an exchange on their respective efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, protect the health and safety of their people, and provide economic support for their citizens. Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Modi spoke about India’s significant efforts in promoting vaccine production and supply, which have provided vital support to countries around the world. The two leaders agreed to work together on access to vaccines. The leaders also recognized the need for continued global coordination to respond to the pandemic and to promote recovery.”

It added: “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 leaders discussed Canada and India’s commitment to democratic principles, recent protests, and the importance of resolving issues through dialogue. They underlined the need to work collectively in rebuilding a more sustainable and resilient global economy.”

The statement 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. The two leaders looked forward to working together at the G7, G20, and other international forums.”

IANS report from New Delhi: “An official statement from the [Indian] Prime Minister’s Office said that Trudeau informed Modi about Canada’s requirement for COVID-19 vaccines from India. Modi on his part assured the Canadian Prime Minister that India would do its best to support Canada’s vaccination efforts, just as it had done for many other countries already.

“Expressing his appreciation, Trudeau said that if the world manages to conquer COVID-19, it would be significantly because of India’s tremendous pharmaceutical capacity, and Prime Minister Modi’s leadership in sharing this capacity with the rest of the world. The Indian Prime Minister thanked Trudeau for his sentiments.

“The two leaders also reiterated the common perspective shared by India and Canada on many important geo-political issues. They agreed to continue the close collaboration between both the countries in fighting global challenges like climate change and the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

IANS report from Toronto: The Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) and many other Indo-Canadian organizations have welcomed Modi’s promise to provide COVID-19 vaccines to Canada.

Calling it a big development in bilateral ties, Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce President Vijay Thomas said: “India’s promise to deliver COVID vaccines to Canada is welcome news in the wake of some recent headwinds in our relationship. A big barrier has been broken.”

Thomas said the phone discussion between the two Prime Ministers could be the beginning of a new partnership.

“Sometimes politics leads to a better trade relationship, but better trade too can lead to a better political relationship. This development will help remove all irritants between our two countries,” he added.

Shiv Bhasker, President of the Ottawa-based Overseas Friends of India and Canada (OFIC), said: “This is an excellent development. Any irritants caused by recent Canadian statements about the farmers’ stir in India can now be smoothed out. India is a big market for Canadian goods, agriculture, urea, aerospace parts, water technology, and we should focus on trade rather than issue statements on India’s internal affairs.”

Winnipeg businessman Hemant Shah, who has worked for four decades on India-Canada trade, said: “Trudeau has done the right thing by calling Modi. It has taken decades, efforts, and taxpayers’ money to build our bilateral trade relationship with India. We must not harm it with negative statements.”