Saturday, January 12, 2008

Minister Bernier Concludes Successful Meetings in India

January 12, 2008

The Honourable Maxime Bernier, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today concluded a three-day visit to India during which he explored ways of deepening relations between Canada and India. Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai accompanied Minister Bernier on this visit.

“I was very pleased with my first visit to India—the first by a Canadian foreign minister in five years. It has been very successful, and is in keeping with our government’s commitment to further strengthen our relationship with India,” said Minister Bernier.

During the visit, Minister Bernier met with Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath.

“Minister Mukherjee and I had a very positive discussion about the Canada-India relationship, focusing on strategic, political and economic interests,” Minister Bernier said. “Canada and India share common values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. It is vital that Canada maintain a strong relationship with India, the world’s largest democracy and an increasingly important international partner.”

Minister Bernier also discussed the case of Saul Itzhayek, a Canadian citizen incarcerated in India.

At their meeting, ministers Bernier and Mukherjee discussed enhanced trade and investment opportunities, the environment, science and technology, regional security and counterterrorism. “We agreed that we would continue to strengthen our joint efforts toward keeping our democracies safe,” said Minister Bernier.

During his meeting with Minister Nath, Minister Bernier highlighted areas where commercial relations between Canada and India could be expanded, notably through two-way investment and science and technology collaboration. The Minister expressed Canada’s particular interest in key sectors such as aerospace, agriculture and agri-food, infrastructure, information and communication technologies, energy, and oil and gas.

While in New Delhi, Minister Bernier also met with members of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce. During the meeting, eminent members of the Indo-Canadian business community shared their views with the Minister on future business opportunities in India. The Minister also visited the Delhi Metro, one of India’s most successful infrastructure projects. Last year, Bombardier won a US$590-million contract to supply 340 metro cars to Delhi Metro Phase II.

Minister Bernier also reiterated Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s invitation to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Canada in early 2008, and confirmed Canadian funding of $3.5 million over five years for the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute.

The meetings took place during Minister Bernier’s visit to the Middle East and Asia from January 9 to 14, 2008.