India, Canada likely to sign civil nuclear energy pact during PM's visit

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, June 22, 2010

India and Canada are likely to sign an agreement for cooperation in civil nuclear energy during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's two-day visit to Toronto for the G-20 Summit on June 26-27 after which he will have a substantive bilateral engagement with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper.

The interaction between the two Prime Ministers is slated for the evening of June 27 in Toronto. The two sides have been discussing a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoU) which are likely to be signed during the visit.

Apart from the pact on civil nuclear energy, the other MoUs are in the areas of mining, higher education, culture and social security.

Briefing mediapersons about the visit, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said Dr Singh would reach Toronto on June 26. His delegation will include Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who is the G20 Sherpa from India, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and other senior officials.

This is the fourth summit of the G-20 in 20 months, starting with the Washington Summit in November 2008, followed by the London Summit in April 2009 and Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009.

"We believe this is indicative of the dynamism and importance of this grouping which since Pittsburgh has been designated as the premier forum for international economic cooperation," she said.

Mr Harper will preside over the Toronto Summit. Apart from the G20 countries, Canada has also invited Spain, the Netherlands, Malawi (as Chair of the African Union), Ethiopia (which holds the Chair of NEPAD) and Vietnam (the Chair of ASEAN) to the Summit.

In addition, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the World Bank, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Director General of the World Trade Organisation and the heads of the International Labour Organisation and the Financial Stability Board, among others, are likely to be present.

The G20 Summit will start with an official welcome and a reception, followed by a working dinner hosted by the Canadian Prime Minister. The first day's programme will conclude with a cultural event.

On June 27, the programme includes the Summit Opening Plenary followed by other plenary sessions, a G20 Family Photograph, a leaders’ working lunch, and finally the concluding Final Plenary in the afternoon.

Ms Rao said Dr Singh would interact with leaders of the participating countries at the Summit on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Canada has organised some side events in conjunction with the G20 Summit. These include a G20 Business Summit (B20) on June 25-26. India will be represented at the B20 by CII and FICCI. The event will be hosted by Canada's Finance Minister.

The other event is the G20 Youth Summit, called "MY Summit" for which each country will send upto seven persons. India will be represented by a youth group selected by the Department of Youth Affairs. Select participants from the Youth Summit will also interact briefly with the G20 leaders on June 27 afternoon.

The theme of the Toronto Summit is "Recovery and New Beginnings". Its main focus will be on implementation of the previous Summit decisions. Therefore, the leaders are expected to take stock of the steps taken so far and chart the future direction. They will also review the current status of the global economic recovery as well as progress of implementation of past G20 Summit decisions.

Ms Rao said the Toronto Summit would decide on the mandate and direction of the G20’s future course of action. Some of the areas the leaders are likely to address are global recovery, its prospects and challenges; the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth; international financial institutions (IFI) reform; financial regulatory reform; protectionism; and looking ahead to Seoul the venue of the Fifth G20 Summit in November 2010.

The leaders are expected to issue a Toronto Summit Declaration or Communique. Ms Rao pointed out that the G20, in its previous Summit meetings and the meetings of the Finance Ministers, had tried to evolve a common understanding on the causes of the global financial and economic crisis, a reaffirmation of commitment to financial and economic stability and growth, to evolve common principles for reforming the financial markets, and launching of the national plans for information.

Ms Rao said the last G20 Summit in Pittsburgh had designated the grouping as the premier forum for international economic cooperation and had noted the success achieved in tackling the international financial and economic crisis by prompt and effective measures. It had mandated a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the 21st century through sound macro-economic policies; emphasised the need for sustained strong policy responses to growth until a durable recovery was secured; and to avoid any premature withdrawal of stimulus while preparing for coordinated exit strategies. It had called for implementing regulatory measures governing banks, financial institutions, capital markets, compensation standards, risk taking, over- the- counter (OTC) derivatives, credit rating agencies, hedge funds, non-cooperative jurisdictions, as well as, reiterated the fight against protectionism and all its forms. It was also decided to hold a Summit at Toronto and thereafter at Seoul, and to have Annual Summits thereafter starting with France in 2011.

The G20 brings together Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union,  France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Mr Vivek Katju, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, said Dr Singh's discussions with Mr Harper would give a fresh impetus to the bilateral relationship between India and Canada.

"The two countries have been engaged, over the past few years, in enhancing the substance of the bilateral relationship in areas that can directly contribute to the welfare of the people. Thus, there has been a focus on economic and commercial cooperation and cooperation in the field of science, technology, innovation, education, health and agriculture among others," he said.

Mr Katju said the visit of Mr Harper to India in November last year had imparted a new momentum to cooperation in these areas.

He said the agreement on cooperation in civil nuclear energy under discussion between the two countries covered the areas of research, of development of nuclear energy applications in the field of agriculture, healthcare industry and environment, in cooperation in the field of nuclear waste management, nuclear safety, radiation safety, and environmental protection, and so on.

In reply to a question, he said the two countries were cooperating in the field of counter-terrorism. He said there was a regular structured dialogue between the two countries in this area and discussions are held on a periodic basis. There is also continuing cooperation between the two sides in this regard, he added.