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India, Canada clinch nuclear deal

IANS
Nov 29, 2009 at 07:52am IST

Port of Spain: Ending months of complex negotiations, India and Canada on Saturday announced the conclusion of a civil nuclear deal that will enable New Delhi to access Canadian nuclear technology and uranium after a gap of 34 years.

The breakthrough was announced after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Port of Spain.

"We have now got an agreement which means this is a tremendous opportunity for both countries," Harper said here while underlining that it was "a tremendous step forward" in bilateral relations.

ANOTHER DEAL IN THE BAG: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announces nuclear deal with Canada.

"Canada is a supplier, obviously an integrated supplier in the nuclear energy field and India is an expanding economy that has great energy needs," Harper said.

The nuclear agreement promises to transform bilateral relations that turned frosty when Ottawa cut off atomic trade after New Delhi's 1974 nuclear test and accused the latter of misappropriating Canadian reactor designs in the test.

Harper, however, added that it will take "a little time to complete the normal legal text and the ratification process."

Lauding Harper for giving a political push to the negotiations, Manmohan Singh said:"This is a tribute to the prime minister's great leadership and the way the civil service functions in Canada."

"It augurs extremely well for the development of our relations," he added.

The deal is likely to be signed when Manmohan Singh goes to Canada to attend the G20 summit in June next year where he will also hold bilateral talks with the Canadian leader on the sidelines.

After this deal is inked, Canada will become the seventh country with which India has struck civil nuclear pacts since the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) allowed India to resume global nuclear trade in September 2008.

India has already signed bilateral civil nuclear deals with the US, France, Russia, Kazakhstan, Namibia and Mongolia.

The Conservative government of Harper has, however, not released the text of the India-Canada deal, saying it would only be released when implementing legislation is tabled in Parliament.

The minority government will require the support of parliament members from one opposition party in order to pass the agreement.

The two sides were close to a civil nuclear deal when Harper came to New Delhi last week, but could not conclude the pact as there were lingering differences over the nature of safeguards.

"Prime Minister Harper proved to be absolutely true to his words when he told me he will have this matter looked into and that this exercise could be completed in a short period of eight to ten days," Manmohan Singh said.

The deal will remove the last irritant in the way of stronger political, economic and strategic ties between the two countries.

The two countries have declared their resolve to triple bilateral trade from around $5 billion to $15 billion in the next five years.

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