Canada to focus on Indian role in Afghanistan, West Asia

John Baird says fighting terrorism is the ‘biggest test of our generation.’

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:24 pm IST

Published - October 13, 2014 04:54 am IST - New Delhi:

India’s role in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria will be a key focus as Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird arrives on Monday to chair the 2nd Indo-Canadian Strategic dialogue with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday.

Mr. Baird, who is travelling to India days after the Canadian parliament endorsed helping the U.S. with strikes on IS targets, called fighting terrorism the “biggest test of our generation.”

Mr. Baird will speak to Ms. Swaraj about helping with security in Afghanistan, months after Canada pulled its forces from the ISAF.

During the talks, India and Canada will discuss nuclear energy, space cooperation as well as the CEPA agreement (economic partnership agreement) that has been in a logjam despite negotiations since 2008.

High-profile visit

Mr. Baird’s five-day trip marks another high-profile reach-out to the new government by a western country. As the U.S., Canada had a visa ban against Prime Minister Narendra Modi according to its law on immigration and refugee protection, but had started to reverse its policy in 2011. The former Canadian High Commissioner Stewart Beck had reopened ties with Gujarat, with Canadian trade delegations regularly participating in investor summits.

As the U.S. that nominated Richard Verma as Ambassador last month, Canada has just nominated a new High Commissioner of Indian origin. Nadir Patel, who emigrated from Gujarat with his family decades ago, was formerly Canada’s Consul-General in Shanghai.

Urban development

During the visit, the Canadian Foreign Minister, who is accompanied by Trade Minister Ed Fast, will discuss funding urban infrastructure and education.

“We are looking towards working with Canada on specific projects of skilling in India, that’s one focus,” said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

“Number two is the Prime Minister’s focus on those 500 Indian cities where we want to focus on urban planning and improvement in urban living conditions.”

Indomitable spirit

Mr. Baird said India and Canada “should channel the indomitable spirit” of boxer Mary Kom, whose biopic was screened at the opening of the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

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