'Focus Is On Nijjar Probe': Canada On Resuming Trade Talks With India


India-Canada diplomatic relations hit a rockbottom after Justin Trudeau's remarks on the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar and now Canada has made it clear that its focus is only on probe and not on improving ties.

Canada’s Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development Mary Ng said Canadian government is focused on getting India to cooperate in the investigation into the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar rather than on resuming trade talks.

Speaking to the media on the margins of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meet in San Francisco, Mary Ng said, “Right now, the focus for Canada is to let the work of the investigation proceed,” according to the outlet CBC News.

Ng, when asked whether trade talks could resume, responded, “You’ve heard me and the government talk about how important it is that investigation happens given that we had a Canadian killed on Canadian soil. So, we’ll let that happen.”

While she would not directly connect cooperation in the investigation and the talks, she said, “Our focus is, of course, on this investigation, that work has to take place.”

Talks towards an Early Progress Trade Agreement (EPTA) were “paused” by Canada, prior to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stating in the House of Commons on September 18 that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of Nijjar on June 18 in Surrey, British Columbia.

Related video: India Exposes Canada: No Defence Left For Justin Trudeau? | India Canada Issue | English News (News18)

A Team Canada Trade Mission to India, scheduled for October and led by Ng, was also called off.

On Friday, India’s High Commissioner to Ottawa Sanjay Kumar Verma had said that “whenever there is a decision to unpause” by Canada, it would “take only a couple of months to reach the conclusion” of the EPTA negotiations.

Trudeau's remarks severely damaged the relationship between India and Canada. As a result, both nations expelled one diplomat each initially. India further halted visa processing for Canadian citizens, only reinstating it for four specific categories on October 25. Seeking equal diplomatic representation, India requested "parity" with Canada, resulting in the departure of 41 Canadian diplomats from India in October. Ottawa referred to this departure as a "mass expulsion."

(With inputs from agencies)


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