Canada to fast-track nuclear deal with India (Lead)

September 12th, 2012 - 8:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 12 (IANS) Underlining that it did not have any proliferation concerns from India, Canada Wednesday said it hoped to complete the remaining procedures to implement the bilateral civil nuclear deal and also agreed to ramp up oil and gas cooperation.

The two countries also decided to step up counter-terror cooperation and spur negotiations for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement that will increase their trade and investment.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna held talks with his Canadian counterpart John Baird, setting the agenda for the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to India in November.

The two ministers also discussed intensification of economic and energy ties and food and energy security.

“We have no concerns with proliferation. These issues are in the past. I am confident that these discussions will be concluded early,” Baird said after meeting Krishna.

Baird said he was pleased with the civil nuclear deal and stressed that Canada 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.

“Administrative procedures and details take some time but we look forward to a successful conclusion of these agreements,” said Baird, who began s five-day trip to India Sunday.

Canada is a member of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

In 2010, Canada - which was known for its hawkish stance on proliferation issues - ended a 36-year-old freeze on nuclear cooperation with India by signing a bilateral nuclear deal, after extracting an assurance from India that imported uranium and atomic technology will not be used for “any unintended purpose”.

Canada has also backed India for membership of the key multilateral nuclear control export regimes like the NSG.

Describing the nuclear deal as “an important milestone” in bilateral relations, Krishna said no issues were holding it up. “These are a matter of details and we look forward to an an early completion of these arrangements.”

Amid reports of stepped-up activities of Khalistani activists in Canada, Baird said India and Canada were on the “same page” on the issue of terrorism.

He assured that his country was committed to curbing extremist groups and stressed on enhancing bilateral counter-terror cooperation.

The issue was raised by Krishna during the talks.

Stepping up cooperation in hydrocarbons is large on the agenda, with Indian companies looking to acquire stakes in energy companies in Canada.

Describing Canada as “an energy superpower”, Krishna said India was looking at Canada “as an important source of oil and gas”.

“We look forward to supplying natural gas to India,” said Baird.

GAIL (India) Ltd is understood to be buying liquefied natural gas (LNG) assets which have been put up for sale by Spain’s Repsol SA in Canada.

India’s state-owned energy major Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) Videsh is exploring the possibility of investing in oil sands and LNG in western Canada’s Alberta province.

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