“The interaction now draws to a close”

From the Inkless emailbox: Stephen Harper holds a news conference with the Prime Minister of India. Full transcript as provided by the Privy Council Office (ours, not theirs).

UNIDENTIFIED: Your Excellency, Prime Minister of Canada, Honourable Prime Minister, distinguished guests, we welcome you to today’s signing ceremony, where two agreements are going to be signed.  First, we have the memorandum of understanding for setting up the joint study group for examining the feasibility of signing a free trade agreement with Canada.  The Canadian signatory is his Excellency Mr. Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade, and the Indian signatory is Shri Anand Sharma, Honourable Minister of Commerce and Industry.  The two ministers are requested to come to the dais, please.


UNIDENTIFIED: Next we have the memorandum of understanding for cooperation between the two countries in the field of energy.  The Canadian signatory is his Excellency Mr. Joseph Caron, High Commissioner of Canada to India, and the Indian signatory is Shri Harishankar Brahma, Secretary, Ministry of Power.


UNIDENTIFIED: This concludes the signing ceremony.  The spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs is now requested to conduct the joint press interaction.

MODERATOR: A very good evening to you all, and welcome to the joint press interaction. First, the Prime Minister of India, Honourable Dr. Manmohan Singh, would be making his opening statement.  Next, the Prime Minister of Canada, his Excellency Stephen Harper will be making a statement.  May I now invite the Prime Minister of India for his remarks?

DR. MANMOHAN SINGH (Prime Minister of India): Your Excellency Prime Minister Stephen Harper, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour for me to extend a very warm welcome to Prime Minister Stephen Harper on his first visit to India as the Prime Minister of Canada.  This had been a long overdue visit, and we are extremely honoured, then, that Prime Minister Harper has been able to accept our invitation.  Relations between India and Canada are of long-standing nature.  They derive their strength from our shared values of democracy, respect for fundamental human rights, and multiculturalism.  Canada is host to a large Indian origin community of over one million.  This reflects the strong people-to-people links that exist between us and which have enriched our relationship.

Our bilateral relations have greatly strengthened since Prime Minister Harper assumed office.  This is particularly true in the areas of trade and investment.  A large number of Indian corporate entities have invested in Canada and several Indian…several Canadian enterprises have entered the Indian market.  There are, however, vast opportunities for doing much more.  There is a significant scope for greater investment by Canadian companies in the areas of high technology and infrastructure development, and enhancing cooperation in the areas of science and technology, agriculture, mining, natural resources, education and energy.  The memorandum of understanding we have signed on energy will facilitate greater cooperation in this very vital area.  We look forward to cooperation in the field of civil nuclear energy.  To further boost our trade, which is currently below $5 billion US, we have decided to set up a giant study group to examine the possibility of a bilateral, comprehensive economic partnership agreement.  We are also working to further strengthen the institutional mechanisms of cooperation such as a bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement, and a social security agreement.  We have decided to organize a year-long Festival of India in Canada in 2011 to showcase India’s culture and economic progress, and I have invited Canada to organize a similar festival in India.  We reviewed the process of global economic recovery and how we can prepare for the next G20 summit, which Canada will be hosting.  We had a very useful exchange of views on climate change energy security, nuclear disarmament and regional issues.  I conveyed to Prime Minister Harper India’s grave concern over the scourge of international terrorism and the threat posed to pluralistic societies like India from extremist ideologies.  We reaffirmed our commitment to deepen our cooperation to counter these threats.  Prime Minister Harper’s visit has imparted a fresh momentum to India-Canada relationship.  We will take all the necessary steps to further intensify our interaction in all areas.  I thank you.

TR. HON. STEPHEN HARPER (Premier ministre du Canada): Merci Monsieur le Premier ministre à vous et à tous les Indiens d’être des hôtes aussi agréables.

Thank you Prime Minister Singh to you and to all Indians for being such gracious hosts.  Visiting a country whose past has so greatly enriched our civilization and whose future stands to transform our world has been for me an extraordinary and invigorating experience.  This trip comes at a critical time for both Canada and India.  Facing the greatest global recession in half a century, our two countries have worked and need to work together for our common prosperity.  As Prime Minister Nehru noted to one of my predecessors, John Diefenbaker, it is a fundamental rule of life that if you give friendship, you get friendship in return.  Ladies and gentlemen, I have come to India with my hand extended in friendship, resolved to usher in an era of even stronger relations between our two great countries.  We have a solid foundation on which to build.  The bonds between Canada and India are strong and plentiful.  We are both democratic federal states that have forged cohesive societies out of ethnically, spiritually and linguistically diverse populations.  And we are both nations whose aspirations are being realized through the ingenuity and resiliency of our people, increasingly a population of shared origins.

Le moment est venu pour le Canada et l’Inde de nous unir dans une cause commune, d’exploiter nos forces partagées et de réaliser notre plein potentiel.

Now is the time for our two countries to unite in common cause, to capitalize on our shared strengths, and to realize our full potential.  Today Prime Minister Singh and I are taking steps that will help us to do just that.

Le Canada et l’Inde se sont entendus pour prendre des mesures initiales vers la conclusion d’un accord de partenariat économique exhaustif.  En (inaudible) les obstacles et en réduisant la réglementation, l’accord que nous allons élaborer permettra au Canada et à l’Inde de mettre nos forces économiques à profit pour répondre à nos besoins mutuels.

Canada and India have agreed to take the first steps towards a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.  In the coming months, our two countries will launch a joint study group to develop the parameters of the future agreement.  By removing trade barriers and streamlining regulatory requirements, the agreement we will develop will allow Canada and India to use our economic strengths to use each other’s economic needs.  Energy is a case in point.  With an abundance of natural resources and technological expertise in the area, Canada is an emerging energy superpower.  With a rapidly expanding economy and growing infrastructure needs, India is one of the largest energy consumers in the world.  Indeed, Canada’s strengths and India’s needs have made collaborations on energy an emerging pillar of our relationship.  And that’s why energy is the subject of the agreement Ministers Day and Sharma have just signed, which will increase cooperation in such fields as clean and renewable energy, oil and gas exploration, power generation and research and development.

Ensemble, les deux accords que le Canada et l’Inde signent aujourd’hui amélioreront le commerce, ouvriront les portes à nos exportateurs, stimuleront la croissance économique, et créeront des emplois dans nos deux pays.

Taken together, the two agreements Canada and India are signing today will expand trade, open doors for our exporters, spur economic growth, and create jobs in both countries.  In closing, I’d like to thank Prime Minister Singh for his thoughtful leadership, his leadership in partnering with Canada, and for his hospitality in welcoming us here.  Working together, our two countries will seize the opportunities that lie before us and arrive at a brighter and even more prosperous future.  Merci, thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, sir.  (APPLAUSE) The Prime Ministers will be happy to take one question from each side.  May I request the correspondent in question to please restrict himself to one question either to the Prime Minister of India or the Prime Minister of Canada.  First question to Mr. Ajay Kaul of the Press Trust of India.  Just wait for the mic to come to you.  Yeah.

REPORTER: Good evening, sir.  My question is in context of terrorism.  As you mentioned, it is a grave threat, so we are talking in the backdrop of Tahawwur Rana, an LeT operative who has been arrested…of Canadian origin, who has been arrested by FBI.  Did this issue come up during…India has sought cooperation from Canada and I mean, trailing his links in Canada.  Did this issue come up, and as part of question to the Canadian Prime Minister, will you investigate the links in Canada?

DR. MANMOHAN SINGH: Well, we had a very fruitful discussion in expanding areas of cooperation between our two countries in dealing with the scourge of international terrorism.  I did mention to Prime Minister Stephen Harper the particular case that you have mentioned.  Since the matter is under investigation, it would not be proper for me to say anything more at this time.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: Let me just say this first specifically on the case in question.  We worked very closely with our American friends in this matter, and Prime Minister Singh and I certainly discussed the case, and are certainly resolve to close…to cooperate closely in the future and exchange information on these matters.  Let me remind you of the following.  First of all, in terms of our own history, the worst terrorist act in Canadian history was the bombing of Air India…of an Air India flight over Canada that killed 329 mainly Canadian citizens, and of course two Canadians were killed last year in the Mumbai attacks.  So we are countries that have felt the pain of terrorism together. We, as I said in my opening comments, we’re countries that share, very deeply share values.  Unfortunately, the flip side of that in our world of today is that we also share threats.  The same people who threaten the security and threaten terrorism to India inevitably have exactly the same intentions toward our own country.  So we are certainly of one mind and of one purpose in resisting these forces all over the world.

MODERATOR: Second and last question, Mr. John Ibbitson of the Globe and the Mail.

REPORTER: Thank you.  My question is also for Prime Minister Singh, though I would invite Prime Minister Harper to respond in English et en français.  Prime Minister Singh, your country has placed your nuclear facilities on high alert.  Canada is negotiating a civil nuclear (inaudible) with India.  In light of security concerns, how can Canadians trust that any trade in nuclear technology would be safely and appropriately used?

DR. MANMOHAN SINGH: We have entered into civil nuclear cooperation agreements now with three countries, the United States, Russia and France, and we will do all that is within our power to ensure safety and security of our nuclear installation.  There should be no doubt about that.  And we look forward to negotiating in the near future a very similar nuclear cooperation deal with Canada.

RT. HON. STEPHEN HARPER: If I could just say a couple of things on this, first of all, I…you should know, of course, that India signed an important agreement a couple of years back with the United States.  Canada played an important role in getting international acceptance of that agreement.  We believe Canada and India have a prosperous civilian nuclear future ahead of us.  We also have great faith in our Indian friends and partners.  We are not living in the 1970s.  We are living in 2009.  As Prime Minister Singh said, India has concluded these negotiations with other significant players in the world, and this is a, notwithstanding the challenges that face this country and the neighbourhood in which it lives, this is a stable and reliable friend of our country, and we have no, certainly no reservations about pursuing this kind of an agreement.

Peut-être je devrais répondre en français pour les deux questions.  Comme je viens de dire, nous vivons…nous vivons plus dans les années ’70.  Nous sommes en 2009.  L’Inde est un pays stable et important pour le Canada.  Plusieurs pays ont déjà signé de telles ententes avec l’Inde et nous avons…nous avons autant de confiance avec l’Inde que nos amis du monde.

Aussi, pour la question un peu plus tôt, la question du terrorisme, je voudrais faire emphase que le fait que nous partageons les valeurs veut dire que nous partageons aussi des menaces, des menaces du terrorisme, des menaces contre des sociétés libres et démocratiques, et pour…pour cette raison, nous sommes déterminés de coopérer dans n’importe quel cas du terrorisme ici dans cette partie du monde ou même en Amérique du Nord.  Nous sommes des amis, des partenaires et des alliés dans la lutte contre le terrorisme.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.  The interaction now draws to a close.  Thank you for your presence.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.