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India, Canada on same page on Maldives, Afghanistan

A joint statement, issued after wide-ranging talks between Modi and Trudeau, said the two leaders expressed "strong concern"over the recent developments in Maldives and their implications for a free society.

Reported by: PTI, New Delhi [ Published on: February 23, 2018 23:33 IST ]
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks as his Canadian
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks as his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau looks on, during their joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Friday.

The political crisis in Maldives, the Afghanistan situation and the freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific was discussed during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau, with the two sides having a convergence of views on these issues.

A joint statement, issued after wide-ranging talks between Modi and Trudeau, said the two leaders expressed "strong concern"over the recent developments in Maldives and their implications for a free society.

They also "deplored the degradation" in Maldives of judicial independence and authority and of democratic institutions, as well as respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of speech and Assembly, constitutional rights and obligations under international law.

"The Government of Maldives was urged to ensure early resumption of the political process after revoking the state of emergency and to allow democratic institutions, including the judiciary, to function independently in a fair and transparent manner," the statement said.

Modi, at a joint press event after his extensive talks with visiting leader, said he discussed with Trudeau pressing regional and global issues.

The two sides were on the same page on the need to restore independence of democratic institutions in Maldives, freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific and issues of non-proliferation related to North Korea, he said.

Yesterday, the Maldivian Parliament accepted President Abdulla Yameen's recommendation to extend the state of emergency by another 30 days.

Ever since the declaration of emergency in the island nation on February 5, the archipelago has plunged into a political crisis. Many leaders and even the chief justice have faced arrest.

India has been critical of the emergency declared by Maldives.

Modi and Trudeau also welcomed the continuation of uranium exports from Canada for peaceful use of civil nuclear power. In 2015, Canada had signed an agreement with India to supply nuclear fuel for a period of five years, the statement said.

The two sides agreed to expand the ongoing "mutually-beneficial civil nuclear cooperation" by developing collaboration in nuclear science and technology.

The leaders welcomed the signing of an agreement between the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Natural Resources Canada.

The leaders also expressed their strong concern over the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan and noted that terrorist activities pose a grave threat to peace, security and stability of Afghanistan and the region.

They called for immediate cessation of violence, renunciation of links with international terrorism and dismantling of infrastructure of support to terrorism from across borders of Afghanistan, the statement said.

"Both sides reaffirmed their support to the government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled national peace and reconciliation process and build a peaceful, secure, united, democratic, prosperous and pluralistic nation," it said.

Modi and Trudeau reaffirmed the importance of lawful commerce and the freedom of navigation and over-flight throughout the Indo-Pacific region, in accordance with international law, including the rights and jurisdiction of states under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Canada is a Pacific rim country while India is prominent player in the Indian Ocean.

The leaders supported bolstering regional connectivity through transparent development of infrastructure and use of responsible debt financing practises, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law and environment, the statement said, in a veiled reference to the One Road One Belt initiative of China.

Modi also thanked Trudeau for Canada's support for India's accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group.

Trudeau also reaffirmed Canada's strong support for India's membership bid for the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Trudeau and Modi also discussed the humanitarian and security crisis in the Rakhine state of Myanmar and across the border in Bangladesh.

India and Bangladesh have been facing an influx of the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar ever since the escalation of violence in the Rakhine state.

Canada and India called for the voluntary, safe and sustainable return of the people displaced, while stressing the importance of ensuring law and order and respect for human dignity in this process.

The joint statement said the two leaders recognised that North Korea’s continued enhancement of its nuclear and ballistic missile programme poses a "grave threat to regional security and global peace".

Modi and Trudeau also called on North Korea to abide strictly by its international obligations and commitments.

They also called on all states to implement rigorously relevant UN Security Council resolutions and hold accountable all those who have supported North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes.

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