NATIONAL Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan met with India’s Minister of Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley, on Tuesday during Sajjan’s first trip to India as minister. The meeting was an opportunity to further strengthen bilateral relations between Canada and India.
To enhance the broader defence relationship, Canada and India will identify additional avenues of cooperation in knowledge exchanges, defence procurement, and joint exercises in areas such as cold climate warfare, maritime cooperation, and peacekeeping.
Sajjan also used the opportunity to reaffirm, on behalf of Canada, Canada’s expertise in the defence and security industry, and the long standing relationship based on the shared traditions of democracy and people-to-people connections between the two countries.
Sajjan and Jaitley discussed the complexity of geopolitical dynamics and the challenges this brings to the stability of the international system. For example, they discussed the security environment as increasingly threatened by issues that require international cooperation, such as terrorism.
Sajjan said: “Canada is committed to working together with India to strengthen our ability to protect our shared security, as well as uphold and promote democratic values. Our growing defence relationship is a fundamental component of our efforts to reinforce global security. Our two countries already share a promising science and technology relationship based on innovation, and we will continue to explore ways to expand these opportunities in the field of defence research for the mutual benefit of our respective countries.”
PTI reports add:
SAJJAN arrived in New Delhi on Monday on a seven-day visit. He will also travel to Amritsar, Chandigarh and Mumbai.
Jaitley strongly expressed India’s “anguish” over the Ontario legislative assembly passing a motion recently describing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as “genocide” during his talks with Sajjan.
He condemned the passage of the motion saying it triggered outrage in India and it was a total exaggeration of facts.
It was conveyed to Sajjan that there has been considerable anguish and disquiet in India over calling the riots as “genocide”, sources said.
Later talking to reporters, Sajjan said it was a resolution by a private member and Canadian government and people do not at all subscribe to such a view.
According to reports, the motion was passed with 34 MPPs voting in favour and just five against. The 1984 riots broke out in the wake of assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
Addressing a press conference, Sajjan termed the talks “fruitful” and said both sides resolved to deepen overall defence and security ties.
SAJJAN said he would not like to get involved in the “internal politics” of any nation, days after Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed him a “Khalistani sympathiser”.
At a public event in New Delhi, Sajjan said he has been given “many labels” in his life and that one should be judged by his actions.
“What you are is determined by what you do. You look at my actions. I don’t want to get sucked into the internal politics of any one province or any one nation. I do not promote the breakup of any country.
“My goal is to build relationships as representative of the Canadian government and that is what I am here to do and I am also very proud of the fact that I was born here,” he said.
Ahead of Sajjan’s visit, the Punjab CM had said he would not meet him alleging that the Canadian minister is a “Khalistani sympathiser”.
Canada has termed the allegation as “disappointing and inaccurate”.
Addressing a seminar on ‘Conflict Prevention and Peacekeeping in a Changing World’, Sajjan stressed that the military by itself cannot resolve conflicts.
Social factors have to be looked in for effective peacekeeping, he said.
Responding to a query on ISIS, he said grievances within the Sunni population in Iraq and Syria led to the rise of the terror group, and for it to be eliminated the “root causes”, including that of recruitment into its ranks, must be addressed.
“We in Canada cannot be an island of stability in an unstable world, while civilians are getting killed,” he said.
Sajjan also pitched for bilateral cooperation in the defence sector and the need for a cooperative approach by working with “our allies who share common values in the Asia Pacific”.
The event was organised by the Observer Research Foundation based here.
THERE was confusion on Monday over whether a guard of honour would be given to Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan on Tuesday.
As per official program, he was to be accorded a tri-service guard of honour outside South Block lawns in Raisina Hills.
However, the defence ministry, on Monday evening, issued a revised media invite, saying the guard of honour to the Canadian Minister stands cancelled.
But later, it clarified that the guard of honour will take place as scheduled and there was miscommunication on the issue.
When contacted, the Canadian High Commission refused to comment.
Earlier in the day, official invitation was sent to visual media for coverage of the event.
EVEN though Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has dubbed Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan as “pro-Khalistani” and refused to meet him during his India visit, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to honour the visiting dignitary.
“As per traditions, the SGPC will honour Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan when he comes to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on April 20,” Kirpal Singh Badungar, the head of SGPC, said on Monday.
“He (Sajjan) is a high dignitary of a sovereign country and India enjoys good relations with Canada,” he added.
It will be a proud moment for all the Sikhs in Punjab and across the globe when the SGPC will honour the Canadian minister at the Golden Temple, said Badungar.
Sajjan, a Sikh himself, has rendered commendable services to the community in Canada and he deserved to be honoured as per SGPC traditions, he added.
The SGPC has been officially informed about Sajjan’s visit and the Canadian Defence Minister will be presented with a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour), shawl, sword, a model of the Golden Temple and religious books in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, said Badungar.
Reacting to Amarinder’s statement describing Sajjan as “pro-Khalistani”, the SGPC chief said, “It’s a political view.”
SGPC is a religious body and it will stick to its tradition of honouring dignitaries who visit the Golden Temple, he added.
Meanwhile, radical outfit Damdami Taksal has also decided to honour the Canadian minister during his visit.
Taksal chief Harnam Singh Dhumma will be present at the Golden Temple to welcome Sajjan on behalf of the Taksal and Sant Samaj.