Nuclear deal with Canada to top Manmohan’s Toronto agenda

New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves for the G20 Summit on the global financial crisis June 26-27 in Toronto, where he is also scheduled to hold talks with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper and may even sign a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation pact.

The contours of the civilian nuclear deal on the lines India has signed with the US, Russia, France and host of other nations was outlined during Harper’s visit to India in November last year, officials said.

‘The agreement will cover a large ambit of peaceful nuclear applications,’ Vivek Katju, Secretary (West) in the external affairs ministry, said during a briefing on the prime minister’s visit.

According to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, India and Canada may also sign specific pacts on energy, culture and social security while holding talks on a host of bilateral, regional and multi-lateral issues.

In a rare honour, Manmohan Singh will be the only visiting leader at the G20 Summit for whom Harper will host a dinner. Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon are part of his delegation.

There were anxious moments ahead of the visit after a public furore last month when it came to light that the Canadian mission in New Delhi had in recent times denied visas to some serving and retired Indians because of their association with the armed forces and intelligence agencies.

The matter was put to rest after Canada said it ‘deeply regrets’ the aspersions cast on the Indian security establishment during routine visa refusals on the legitimacy of work carried out by members of the Indian defence and security institutions.

The G20 Summit is also no less important as the leaders of rich and emerging economies discuss how to come out of the global financial crises that has sent some countries to the verge of bankruptcy.

At the past summits, the management of the Indian economy had been highly appreciated by the leaders as India not only weathered the crisis better than most economies but also managed to log decent growths of 7.4 percent last fiscal and 6.7 percent earlier.

At the preparatory meeting for the Summit earlier this month, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Busan, South Korea, that support for emerging nations should not be sacrificed in the name of fiscal correction, though getting rid of high debt was paramount for economies.

‘Structural reforms are the single most effective policy tool for addressing imbalances and raising growth. I fear that they cannot be sold unless they are seen to be creating jobs on a vast scale, as much of the recovery has been jobless in several parts of the world.’

The G20 was formed in 1999 after the Asian fiscal crisis mainly as a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors to deliberate on the global regulatory systems. Comprising 19 countries and the EU, it assumed a summit level in November 2008.

Its member countries are the US, Canada, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.

The leaders met last at Pittsburgh in September and will do so again in South Korea in November.

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